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Does the university not want us to have a Rector?

Here is why you should vote for one

By Alisa Koester

Photo courtesy of Marco Verch via Flickr


Photo courtesy of AUSA

After a months-long process, the Rectorial Election is finally on its way. Rector elections in Aberdeen have been the topic of heated debates in the past, with no rectorial candidates in the April election which led to this week’s election. From cats being nominated as rector candidates, to rectorial candidates being suspended, and now the Student Council recently passing a motion that the University should allow students again to stand as rector candidate.


However, the problem lies not with students being unable to stand as rector candidate. The problem is the Rector nomination process. And having gone through it, I am not convinced the university is interested enough in having a rector position.


Caption: Student President Alisa Koester.


It starts with the issue of responsibility. Neither the university, nor the Students’ Union are particularly responsible for the elections. The university is supposed to organise them—and expects AUSA to recruit candidates. However, AUSA staff have to remain impartial and are not allowed to endorse specific candidates. Thus, I was personally tasked with finding students who were willing to sponsor rector candidates. But ideally, we want to have students approach them.


Now after finding two students for each candidate as co-sponsors, the work does not stop. Before any information can be shared about those candidates, they each need 50 student seconders to be eligible for campaigning. This needs to be online. Whilst this is being done, campaigning is not allowed yet. The responsibility of finding 50 student supporters for their candidate lies on the nominating students.


If the university were truly interested in having a rector and more student advocacy, then

  • why is it harder to nominate a Rector candidate than applying for a full-time job at the university?

  • why does the responsibility on recruiting candidates lie on students alone without their Students’ Association being allowed to actively support them?

  • why is the process not entirely transparent to students and staff alike?

There are good reasons why the university might not be too keen on having a rector. According to the Rector Rules “Rector will preside at Court ensuring that inclusion and issues of equality and diversity, articulated in our foundational purpose, remain fore-fronted in our decision-making". It reads further that “The Rector will retain, while presiding at Court, the deliberative and casting vote established in the 1889 Act and rearticulated in the 2016 Act”. This is power for students not to be underestimated by the university. It would be easier for the university to not have someone presiding over Court who vows to put student interests at the forefront of everything.


In a nutshell: power to the students! Go and vote in the rector elections. And then let’s work together to improve the process to nominate a rector candidate.