Students: ‘@AamerAnwar campaign an opportunity to back justice and push back against far-right’
THE ROLE HAS BEEN HELD BY prestigious names ranging from Adam Smith to Pat Kane, Robert Peel to Greg Hemphill, Jimmy Reid to Mordechai Vanunu, Winnie Mandela and its current post-holder whistleblower Edward Snowden. Now human rights lawyer and activist Aamer Anwar has launched his bid to become Rector at the University of Glasgow.
Nominated and then elected by students, the rectorship involves chairing the University Court – its governing body – and speaking up on behalf of the institution’s 24,000 students.
Five Scottish Universities have elected rectors – Aberdeen, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Dundee, St Andrew’s – with the recent Higher Education Governance Act moving towards all universities holding management elections.
“With students facing increasing rents, lengthy waiting lists for counselling services and the uncertainty of Brexit, we need a working rector now more than ever.” Justine McCluskey, student nominee
Nominations for the Glasgow post were recently extended due to a lack of candidates – and Anwar’s campaign is the first to declare.
Anwar, a former student at both Glasgow and Strathclyde universities, has long been a campaigner against racial and social injustice. His role as a solicitor has seen him take on high profile cases including his recent 17 year campaign for justice for the family of murdered waiter Surjit Singh Chhokar. He continues his campaign for the family of Sheku Bayoh, who died in police custody in 2015.
His student nominees told CommonSpace Anwar has been proposed as they “want the university to have a progressive, working rector” and point towards his campaigns while a student as examples of this.
Justine McCluskey, one of the students who has nominated Aamer, said: “We’re delighted that Aamer has agreed to stand for Rector. We know that he’ll be a strong voice for Glasgow’s students. With students facing increasing rents, lengthy waiting lists for counselling services and the uncertainty of Brexit, we need a working rector now more than ever.
— Robert J Somynne (@RobertJSomynne) January 30, 2017
“This election also gives Glasgow students a welcome opportunity to demonstrate our university and our city’s progressive credentials – and to oppose the tide of racist rightwing populism taking hold across Europe and the United States”.
Anwar said: “I’m honoured to be nominated for Rector of Glasgow University. Glasgow’s students deserve a working rector who’ll stand up for their interests – campaigning for more affordable student housing, better access to mental health counselling services and to protect the status of EU students and staff.
“I’m looking forward to speaking to students over the coming weeks about how as a working rector I can help make their voices heard, and ensure that Glasgow remains a welcoming and inclusive environment for all students, regardless of their race, nationality, sexuality or gender.”
While a student in 1991, Anwar was assaulted by a police officer in the city’s Ashton lane: an incident he then fought and won compensation over.
Jordan Peterson, a controversial Canadian lecturer opposed to so-called ‘political correctness’, has also been nominated. Ex-Liberal Democrat minister Vince Cable has also been tipped as another possible candidate.
Picture courtesy of Julia Davidson
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