I can’t really complain about the election of whistleblower Edward Snowden to the position of Rector because I didn’t bother to vote. I didn’t even bother to look at the other candidates and their manifestos and any information that was relevant to the election. I’m a politics student who failed to do one of the civic duties expected of me in a democratic society. The very idea that someone would nominate him to such a position was something I found funny, and maybe that’s why I didn’t bother voting or taking an interest. I mean, who would take an election with an American fugitive as one of the front runners seriously? I guess the joke is on me.
What does the rector actually do for the university? He or she is expected to attend the university court, work with the SRC and bring student concerns to the attention of the university. Snowden always said his motivation for his blowing of the metaphorical whistle was to let people to know what their government was doing in their name and what was being done against them, so in an ironic way, he’s kind of perfect for the role of university rector in acting in the interest of students. However, seeing as he won’t be able to step into the country without being extradited to the US, the ability for him to actually participate and make a difference for students will be limited. His purely symbolic role as rector means that actual change that could have benefited the university will no longer happen. So I guess the joke is on everyone who voted for him.
Here’s why I find it funny. Everyone is posting on Facebook their disgust with what has happened when in reality he was elected fair and square in a democratic process that he claims he was trying to protect when he published the NSA documents that showed the scope U.S surveillance. It hasn’t taken long for international backlash to arise amidst the election. Georgetown University Professor Michael Scheuer has condemned the election as a failure of the Scottish education system. I might be biased in saying that I don’t think the Scottish education system is a failure (I quite like it) but I won’t argue that this election is a failure on some level. It’s funny to say, “hey, one of the most infamous whistleblowers is an elected representative of my university”, but you won’t be laughing when your grades are published for everyone to see. In the end, I guess the joke is on everyone.