Yesterday evening two rector candidates, Ann Henderson and Marco Bauder, presented speeches summarising their manifestos at an organised event at the Teviot Debating Hall, followed by questions from the audience.
The Rector’s role “is to preside at the University Court,” in addition to chairing meetings when the Chancellor is absent and working alongside the Edinburgh University Students’ Association. The term for Rector is three years long. Voting for this year’s election will take place on February 26th and 27th.
Ann Henderson started off the evening with her speech addressing a multitude of issues affecting not just the University, but also the city. Henderson is an alumnus of the University and graduated in 1978 for Sociology and Social Administration.
In her speech, she made it clear that she wanted to work hard in talking to students and staff, creating more transparency. Henderson discussed the importance of fund management by the University, ensuring that fair pay and pensions are prioritised. She stressed her support for the UCU industrial action taking place.
Other main points she brought up consisted of student housing problems, the issue of private student accommodation properties for the rest of the city, making more ethical investments, having more accessible resources, including the voices of women, and in general listening to the diverse voices of the community to shape a better future.
Next, Marco Bauder began his speech. Bauder is a more recent graduate of the University, having graduated in 2015 for Politics and Social & Economic History.
Bauder was concerned with similar issues as Henderson but brought up new student-related issues. He made a promise to be on campus once a week to be accessible to students and staff to address issues.
While he too voiced concerns about the University’s spending, he also brought up large discrepancies in Welfare. Bauder pointed out that the University does not prioritise the welfare of its students which is seen in the ridiculously long waitlist for counselling (approximately 6-8 weeks).
In addition to this he brought up the importance of supporting international students more, as they currently make up 43% of the student body and contribute larger fees. Bauder wants to address many direct issues the students face such as welfare, housing, and overall support.
After both speeches were completed, the floor was open for questions. The audience consisted of University staff, students, and Students’ Association representatives.
Henderson was questioned about her involvement with the labour party and experience working with and discussing with current students. She maintained that her political beliefs would not interfere with the Rector position, and that recently she has worked on a campaign, ‘Better than Zero,’ working alongside students working part-time to help pay for university fees.
Bauder was asked about his position on the UCU industrial action in addition to the amount of experience he has with being able to chair a meeting and read large amounts of court documents. He replied that he fully supports the UCU industrial action and he has chaired the board of various charities.
Most of the other questions addressed to both candidates concerned the future funding and resourcing of the University moving forward. Both candidates were adamant in supporting and addressing the needs of students and staff before the monetary goals of the university.
One question came from a student addressing their concern with the lack of mention of any support for LGBTQ+ students mentioned in either candidate’s speech. Both candidates ensured that the issues of all students would be addressed including those of LGBTQ+ students. Henderson specifically discussed taking actions to continue the gender-neutral bathrooms initiative that was started but not completed on campus.
The staff collectively brought up the issues they see in the new Expense Policy that was implemented earlier this year. The staff believe this current policy is unethical and will diminish the reputation of the University.
In response, Henderson and Bauder ensured they would work hard to investigate the origins of this policy and better understand how changes could be made to it.
Both candidates are reachable for questions via email. In addition to that there is information about their campaigns on their websites. Voting will take place on the 26th and 27th of February.
Ann Henderson: https://ann4rector.com/
Marco Bauder: https://www.facebook.com/marco4rector
Image: Rosie Duckworth / Photographer