Glasgow SRC elections

Its election time on the Glasgow University campus with all the madness that elections brings. Now don’t laugh at the fact that its student politics again, some of this stuff is important… Yes seriously some of it is. Here is all the interviews and coverage I masterminded all this week.

SRC Elections

James Foley v GUU in SRC election controversy

As the polls opened today on the Glasgow University campus, controversy was swift to follow as the first votes began to be cast.

The current candidate odds on to win the position of SRC President – James Foley- has today attacked the Glasgow University Union. Foley has accused the GUU of supporting his opponent Stuart Richie and GUU Board members of tearing down his election posters as well as threatening his campaign team.

GUU president Colin Woods condemned the actions of the unnamed GUU Board Members involved and vowed that disciplinary action would be taken. He also denied that the GUU was taking sides in the election and accused members of James Foley’s campaign team of assaulting GUU members in the campaign fracas.

You can hear the report on Subcity Update

Reporter – Kirsteen Fraser

Charles Kennedy for rector interview

Charles Kennedy MP is one of two candidates standing in the 2011 Rectorial election and although he is no longer at the forefront of politics, the former leader of the Liberal Democrats has been a vocal opponent to the current direction of the Lib Dems in the coalition government; specifically he has maintained his opposition to tuition fee policy.

If elected, Charles Kennedy would be the first person to have held the position for two successive terms since Benjamin Disraeli in the 1870s. Whilst not all have been happy with his time in office, he has remained a popular figure amongst students.

Whilst his campaign team are predicting a comfortable election to a second term, the events of recent weeks may make some students consider a protest vote against Charles Kennedy. There is the opinion in some quarters that he has not been forceful enough with University management in his tenure as Rector and that he has let students down. This coupled with the increasingly political aware student population could yet lead to a surprising result.

You can hear Charles Kennedy’s interview on Subcity Update.

AL Kennedy for rector interview

AL Kennedy is one of two candidates standing in the 2011 Rectorial election and whilst she may not be as an instantly recognisable household name as her opponent Charles Kennedy, it certainly doesn’t stop her from making a big impact when she speaks.

AL Kennedy has had a distinguished time as both a writer and performing stand-up at the Edinburgh festival to critical acclaim but her entering the University of Glasgow Rectorial race may come as a surprise to come due to her low profile. Whilst she openly admits that she doesn’t expect to win, she is challenging Charles Kennedy to debate the issues that currently dominate both the local campus and the wider student community.

No matter what the outcome of the elections, her direct and frank approach when discussing the future of students may have won her more support than Charles Kennedy camp may expect and this race may be closer than either side expects.

You can here AL Kennedy’s interview on Subcity Update.

Aaron Porter kettling latest

At the weekend Subcity Update brought you the report that the National Union of Students President: Aaron Porter had been “kettled” by students allegedly affiliated to the Glasgow Anti-cuts Network and the Free Hetherington. Porter had been attending the Young Labour conference in an unofficial capacity when a group of protesters- one wearing a riot helmet – surrounded him and according to reports shouted abuse at him.

University of Glasgow security teams came to assist Porter who was seen to be “visibly distressed” before he broke free and ran away from both security and the protesters. It was two hours later when Porter finally made his return to the conference where delegates saw him “holding his head in his hands,” and “upset”.

Porter has become a “hate figure” during his tenure as NUS president for his perceived inaction over student fees and unwillingness to support students during direct action protests.

The now infamous “kettling” episode had drawn speculation that it would provoke the University into removing the Free Hetherington occupiers. However a University spokesman stated that as there had been no complaint made by Aaron Porter over the incident, no action would be taken against students involved. Strathclyde Police also confirmed that they were aware of the incident but until Aaron Porter himself made a complaint no charges or further action would be brought.

This comes despite many concerned students beginning letter and email campaigns to try and spur the University into action. Due to the controversy both Student Unions: the QMU and GUU put out a joint statement distancing themselves from the Free Hetherington and ACAN.

Iain Smith QMU president gave this statement to Subcity Update earlier in the week. “The Unions chose to release the statement as we felt there was no other choice but to distance ourselves from the kind of action deemed appropriate by members of the Hetherington movement.

As the statement says, the Board of Management of both Unions were elected to serve the interest of the members of the unions first and foremost, and being associated to action such as that which occurred on February 12th could prove detrimental to the ongoing consultation process regarding the cuts which myself and Colin Woods intend to be as much a part of as possible.

It was felt by the QM Board of Management specifically, that without any kind of hierarchical structure in place and no accountability for any of the actions of those involved with the Hetherington movement, that any working relationship with them at this time was not possible.”

GUU President Colin Woods also echoed the feelings of his QMU counterpart speaking to Subcity Update yesterday. “I think that the actions of those involved have dealt the anti-cuts movement as well as the Hetherington Occupation a major blow, and have alienated a large proportion of students on campus.

I completely support both movements in principle, but I would not condone the intimidatory and militant action of a minority of those involved; and I can only hope that that minority does not undermine the hard work put in by the organisers of today’s march.”

The SRC also distanced itself with President Tommy Gore expressing sadness at the anti-cuts movement at Glasgow University being tarred by the actions of a small minority.

The Free Hetherington later issued a statement in response to this article: “As has been made clear already, the action on Saturday February 12th was undertaken by a group of autonomous activists, not the Free Hetherington, nor ACAN; and as far as we are concerned the matter is closed…These concerns aside, it is always best to finish on a high note. As such we would like to extend our gratitude to all staff and students who turned out to make Wednesday’s protest such a success.”

Aaron Porter and the NUS have so far refused to comment.

Report by Kirsteen Fraser

Glasgow University Rectorial hustings 2011

On the 16th of February the Rectorial Hustings took place in the Debates Chamber of the Glasgow University Union. The two candidates for Rector, A L Kennedy and Charles Kennedy, debated for over an hour on the issues affecting campus. Discussion ranged from the proposed cutbacks & departmental closures to the Hetherington Research Club and how much input students have into the running of the university.

Over a hundred students attended the hustings and listened to the two candidates debate the issues. The hustings came just hours after one of the largest marches the University of Glasgow campus has seen in years, which was called in response to proposals before the University court.

Voting for the rectorial election will be 21st to the 22nd of February. You will be able to vote online at www.glasgowstudent.net.

More coverage of the debate to come.

This is the full recording of proceedings in the GUU Debates Chamber as recorded by Subcity Update.

NUS President aaron porter mobbed by demonstrators

The National Union of Students president: Aaron Porter was “kettled” by demonstrators at the UK Young Labour conference on Saturday 12th February 2011 outside the Boyd Orr building at the University of Glasgow. Porter has drawn ire from many student organisations across the UK for presiding over what they consider to be NUS inaction over government rhetoric over education cuts.

Porter, who was a delegate to the conference and not representing the NUS, was at first seen to be smiling and waving at the demonstrators before hearing their chants. He was then surrounded by a number of protestors, one of whom was wearing a riot helmet. University of Glasgow security was forced to come to Mr Porter’s aid. However, Aaron Porter – fearing for his safety – made a break from the scrum and was visibly distressed as he fled from the scene.

University security staff repeatedly searched the campus grounds looking for Mr Porter but were unable to locate him. Porter then resurfaced two hours later at the conference but looked “visibly shaken” to delegates.

Listen to the full report on Subcity Radio

Reporter: James Harrison
Producer: Kirsteen Fraser
Photo: Free Hetherington, Glasgow University