Rector Manifestos 2014

The manifestos for all confirmed candidates in the 2014 Rector election are below:

If you’re unsatisfied with the promises and rhetoric contained in each candidates’ wonderful prose, you’ll luckily have the chance to grill them in person at one of the two Heckling/Hustings Meetings.

The Rectorial Hustings is the 12th February at 6pm in the Boyd Orr Building. Voting is open online on the 17th and 18th of February and the results will be announced at 5pm in the Randolph Hall.


Choose a candidate below to see the manifesto:

About Alan

Alan Bissett is the author of the cult-classic novels Boyracers and Death of a Ladies’ Man, amongst others, and was awarded the Glenfiddich Spirit of Scotland Writer of the Year award in 2011. He is also a noted playwright and performer, writing and starring in his own ‘one-woman show’ The Moira Monologues and, most recently, Ban This Filth!, which was inspired by the writings of feminist Andrea Dworkin. Ban This Filth! was selected as a Scotsman Hot Show at the 2013 Edinburgh Festival Fringe and was shortlisted for an Amnesty International Freedom of Expression Award. Alan has also worked as an English teacher and formerly taught on the Creative Writing MLitt programme at Glasgow University.

Follow Alan’s campaign on Facebook ( and Twitter (, or get in touch via email at with any questions you may have for Alan!


Vote Alan Bissett to elect a Rector who will:

  • Actively represent the interests of students
  • Improve gender equality on campus
  • Pressure senior management to show pay restraint
  • Stand up for student asylum seekers and refugees
  • Support the Conflict-Free Campus Initiative


I’m thrilled to be standing to become the next Rector of Glasgow University, a fantastic institution which makes a great contribution to Scotland and to the world. My first and foremost priority as Rector would be to actively represent the interests of students on campus. I want to hold regular surgeries, aiming to have a surgery at least every three weeks, with dates of surgeries set out far in advance so that students know when they can come to me for advice or to air their concerns.

As Rector, one of my main aims would be to improve gender equality on campus and make Glasgow more inclusive. It’s striking that less than 25% of members of the University Court are women, which is below even the poor national average. For a body responsible for governing the University, the fact that it is so unrepresentative of the student population is unacceptable. If elected Rector, I want to use my position to pressure the University to change this, and would aim to get at least 40% of University Court members to be female by 2017. I want to support the Glasgow University Union in implementing the findings of its independent review, which discovered sexist practices, and work alongside the Union to make it more inclusive. I’m also interested in looking at how we can encourage more female participation in classes and tutorials. As a former tutor at Glasgow, I saw first-hand that male students were often more likely to participate in tutorials than female students. There’s no easy way to alter this situation, but if elected Rector I would want to hold discussions with academic staff and student bodies on how to change this. Finally, I think it’s important that we look at reforming the nomination procedure for Rector. The fact that all four candidates for Rector at a university with a predominantly female student population are male is quite an anomaly, and whilst I asked the University to extend the nomination deadline so that a female candidate could be nominated, this was not permitted. I’d be looking to change the nomination process to ensure a greater gender balance in future.

At a time when University staff are facing a real terms wage cut, I don’t think senior management should be awarding themselves substantial pay increases on their already-immense pay packets. As Rector, I would seek to use my position on the University Court to pressure senior management to show pay restraint in solidarity with staff.

I also want to help student asylum seekers and refugees to feel welcome coming to study here, and to stand up for their right to come and study in this amazing city. In doing so, I think it’s important that I listen to student asylum seekers and refugees, as well as groups such as GU Amnesty International, Student Action for Refugees and Crossing Borders, to find out what I can do as Rector to help.
I’d like to see the University add its support to the Conflict-Free Campus Initiative, and to review its procurement procedures to ensure that it isn’t sourcing electronic goods produced with conflict minerals, particularly from the war-torn Congo. Since 1996, the International Rescue Committee has calculated that approximately 5.4 million people in the Congo have died from war-related causes. Further to this, the trade in conflict minerals earns armed militia groups, some of those behind the worst human rights violations in the conflict, tens of millions of pounds a year. It is crucial that the University acts as a voice to pressure its suppliers to source their raw materials ethically in order to stop groups like these profiteering from violence and suffering.

Finally, I will do my best to support arts activities on campus, whether these are theatre groups, creative writing magazines or live music nights. These things, after all, form the lifeblood of a thriving student experience.

Glasgow University students have a long and proud tradition of electing student rectors to represent their political views – from Albert Lutuli to Winnie Madikizela-Mandela and, in 2005, the Israeli whistleblower Mordechai Vanunu. The campaign to elect Edward Snowden is set firmly in that tradition. Once every three years we, as Glasgow University students, have a powerful opportunity to have our voice heard on an issue of our choosing. Yesterday, we chose to nominate the whistleblower Edward Snowden in order to show our support for his actions and our disgust with the perverse desire of the security services to monitor our every keystroke.

Edward Snowden’s chilling revelations are well known, and their scope far too wide reaching to reiterate here, but what is abundantly clear is that all of our personal communications are now subject to invasive scrutiny by state security. This is not acceptable. Nor is the treatment of Edward Snowden, particularly now threats to his life have emerged. The UK government’s response to this scandal has been woeful, as has the coverage in certain sections of the press. The rectorial contest will give us an invaluable platform from which to have a public debate, one which has been all too absent in government and media circles, about our right as citizens to lead our lives away from the gaze of spies and spooks.

Key to this campaign is the widest possible participation of supporters both on and off campus. We have already had an overwhelming response to the nomination and over the coming weeks will build the campaign to a crescendo against state surveillance. We are optimistic that the energy and enthusiasm of our supporters will see Edward Snowden elected to this centuries old position, but the work will not stop there. If elected, we will continue to campaign for Snowden to be recognized as a hero, not a traitor, and for the citizens of this country and beyond to have a democratic say on their right to privacy.

We do not pretend that Edward Snowden will be a working rector, like the current incumbent, Charles Kennedy. He may never be able to even set foot on campus. But we have been here before with no ill effect on student representation: indeed, we are perfectly capable of organizing our own representation, as witnessed in 2011 with the long running Hetherington Occupation. And when else will we able to speak clearly on our opposition to pervasive state surveillance? No one else will give us this chance and we are privileged to have this opportunity and Edward Snowden’s support.

The practices of GCHQ and the NSA are fundamentally at odds with an open, free and democratic society. Throughout our campaign we will not only highlight this appalling incursion into our private and personal lives but celebrate all whistleblowers who risk their lives and livelihoods to expose corrupt and immoral practices by the state and other powerful groups.

These concerns do not just impact the students of Glasgow University but affect everyone and we strongly encourage all students, and indeed everyone who supports Edward Snowden and the courage of whistleblowers, to join us in our campaign.


When Chris Boardman used heart rates and power cranks to train for the hour attempts, Graeme Obree took to the hills of Scotland, old school. Obree – famed for his innovative techniques, re-invented the rulebooks so many times that the UCI locked him and his designs down. He is in the Scottish Sports Hall of Fame as well as the British Cycling Hall of Fame, recognising the massive contribution he has made to the sport.

Born in 1965, Graeme Obree’s career has been an inspiration for Scottish cyclists, including Chris Hoy. The two time world hour record holder, who was named BBC Sportscene personality of the year in 1993, developed a keen interest in cycling as a youngster and regularly won senior races as a junior. Inspired by the hour record set by Francesco Moser in 1984, Obree went on to break the record using his own ‘crouch’ position, which was banned twice, on a bike he built himself.

Additionally he has published two books, his autobiography, The Flying Scotsman – now a movie of the same name, and his acclaimed training manual, The Obree Way.
A unique talent, an individual who achieved extraordinary things grabbing the UCI World Hour Record twice, the 4000m world pursuit crown twice and a string of national records at 10,25 and 50 miles. His radical Superman cycling position was ridden to 8 gold medals at The Atlanta Olympics before it too was outlawed by the UCI. More recently Obree set a new mark when he claimed the IHPVA Prone Recumbent World Speed Record aboard the latest self designed and build bike, The Beastie.

But many know Obree as the man who designed and built the Washing Machine bike- recently voted the most famous bike in the world, Old Faithful. Graeme Obree is a legend in the world of Cycling and beyond. An innovator who uses the power of his mind and imagination combined with his extraordinary athleticism to reach a level few human beings can aspire to.

Obree, who has battled personal demons and depression all his life has shunned commercial gain in favour of following a value system based upon self determination, education and principled choice.
Graeme Obree earns his living as a writer, commentator, cyclist and speaker.

Personal statement

When I was approached regarding the role of rector of Glasgow University it brought back memories for me of my period as a student at the University. I was accepted to study Product Design Engineering in 1987 (28 lectures a week). I was young, carefree and in truth overwhelmed by the short experience. I lasted all of four months before deciding the university was not for me.

With the benefit of hindsight I can deduce now that my short university experience was in some way determined by the isolation I felt and experienced as a student. I felt small and insignificant in a theatre the size of Glasgow University and indeed felt isolated in huge and impersonal classes. I had not developed the self-confidence to get to grips with the challenges. There seemed to be no systems then available that would have been of help to me either, resulting in my rejecting the opportunity to complete my studies. So I returned to the world I knew – the world of cycling. I am sure my story from then is not uncommon; the literal stage fright of moving into a new world can result in a form of shock.

More than twenty years have passed and life has taken me on a great expedition. My cycling career took me on a new and exciting direction travelling the world to compete at the top level of world cycling representing Great Britain in Olympic Games and World Championships. This in turn has opened the doors for a career in writing, speaking and media. My education has been in large self taught. I am not advocating this as the solution to current student challenges. Instead the creation of a culture of support, diversity, understanding and encouragement is what appeals to me. A culture where wellbeing and healthy activity are seen as key components to a balanced life, a life that will enable students to build a solid base upon which they can face their own life challenges with confidence and vigour. I am prepared to stand up and fight for the students of Glasgow University. I am a profound advocate for freedom of expression, tolerance and inclusive thinking. Cultural diversity is a platform for betterment and The University of Glasgow should promote itself as a sanctuary for betterment. If elected to the position of Rector, I will listen to and stand up and fight for the rights of students.


  • To be an active Rector, visiting the campus regularly to engage with students to assist develop a real understanding of the challenges faced by students
  • To act as a representative of the Students of Glasgow University and to promote issues which are pertinent to the welfare of the majority of students
  • Promote awareness of Mental Health issues and liaise with student services to ensure support services are available to students who need assistance in relation to any mental health issues
  • Promote open access to sport, physical recreation and exercise which is vital in maintaining a healthy life balance
  • Champion the development of sports facilities to ensure Glasgow University has the best sports facilities possible and which are accessible for all students
  • Champion the causes of minorities particularly in relation to LGBT issues and to fight to promote a University culture which is informed and does not shy away from promoting and supporting diversity
  • Working to promote diversity and facilitate developing an acceptance of the benefits of promoting an open and tolerant atmosphere on campus engaging with all students
  • To assist promote the understanding of the core purpose of University (bettering human knowledge) to the public and media

Kelvin Holdsworth – a working Rector for the Students of the University of Glasgow


  • is listening to student concerns
  • is able to represent those concerns at the highest level of the University
  • is available to students
  • has a campaigning background who knows how to get things done


If elected as Rector, I will highlight the following issues which have already been raised with me by students:

  • The annual difficulties over registration are unacceptable, particularly for overseas students with visa and bank problems. MyCampus has to be fixed and working for everyone before Freshers’ Week.
  • Students need real responses to overcrowding particularly in relation to computer access and the limited number of laptop sockets in the University Library.
  • Central room booking has to be made more efficient – too many societies and lectures end up being double booked.
  • Work is needed to enable Chinese students to integrate well with the rest of the student body and enjoy their time in Glasgow.
  • Student security on and off campus needs to be built into the University’s development plans.
  • Freshers’ Week ensures students have free transport both to and from social events, working with the unions to resist student drift to off-campus clubs (who transport students there but don’t take them home) will ensure freshers’ safety.
  • Better solutions to level access are needed particularly for students who are manual wheelchair users getting up the hill to the University Library. Students have suggested a ‘salmon leap’ of lifts to me, connecting existing university buildings.
  • Following the Hetherington Occupation, mature students were promised a social place and although the Mature Students Association has valiantly attempted to accommodate these concerns, more designated space is needed.
  • Timetabling issues need to be raised with the University at the most senior levels to maintain the possibility of Wednesday afternoon sports and other societies’ events.

Specific skills & experience

As an experienced campaigner who has worked in universities, I would bring the following skills:

  • Persistence in representing the views of students
  • Local knowledge (I live within walking distance of the University of Glasgow)
  • Extensive experience of working with the media – newspapers, Scotland Tonight, Newsnight and social media would enable me to highlight student concerns and present a positive image of that work to the world outside the university.
  • Actual campaign experience on human rights and LGBT campaigns has taught me how to get things done. I’m proud of my part in the campaign for
  • Equal Marriage in Scotland and was the first person to bless a gay couple in the Memorial Chapel of the University of Glasgow

Work in two other universities has given me experience of

  • working with elected student sabbatical officers
  • working with welfare staff
  • ensuring that students are not forgotten when big decisions are taken.

Politically, I am a left-leaning liberal who is not currently aligned to any political party. Being an out gay man working in the church, I’ve developed a strong commitment to equality issues and human rights. Social media is my natural home and if elected, I will use online and digital means of communication with students as well as being a presence on campus. If elected, I would exercise the role of Rector as a working Rector, would make myself available to students and highlight their issues within the University. As part of my commitment to do that, I encourage students to raise further issues with me via the above CAMPAIGN LINKS.”

Kelvin Holdsworth – a working Rector for the Students of the University of Glasgow – is proudly supported by POLIS (affiliated to the QMU and the SRC).