Apathy is no laughing matter

February 20, 2004

Apathy has sunk to a new low at Glasgow University, where students have failed to nominate anyone for the post of rector, their representative on the university court, writes Olga Wojtas.

The court has proposed an unprecedented postponement of elections until the beginning of the academic year to avoid having a poll during the exam period. The senate is expected to approve this on March 11.

But there have been no such problems at Dundee University, where students have nominated GMTV presenter Lorraine Kelly, former MI5 officer David Shayler and journalist and broadcaster Lesley Riddoch.

Elections for a successor to comedian Fred MacAulay will take place at the end of this month.

Greg Hemphill, Glasgow rector and star of the TV comedy Chewin' the Fat , ends his three-year term next month, but a university spokesperson said no nominations had been received.

The rector chairs the university court. In his absence, the task falls to the chancellor's assessor, Joy Travers.

"Senate advised students through personal emails and information posters across campus that nominations were invited for post of rector. The students' representative council highlighted it on its website, and student media gave it some coverage as well," the Glasgow spokesperson said.

"It is surprising that no nominations have been made by the student body as the position of rector is an important one in representing the interests and concerns of students."

Ali Ritchie, the president of Glasgow's students' representative council said: "We're all kind of disappointed that nobody nominated anyone this year. This has never happened before."

She said she hoped it would be possible to elect someone as good as Mr Hemphill in future.

Although the rectors of Aberdeen, Edinburgh, Glasgow and St Andrews have the automatic right to chair the university court, Dundee's rector is an ordinary court member.

Rectors carry out their duties with varying levels of assiduity, and the Garrick committee, the Scottish arm of the Dearing inquiry, proposed that the rector remain as a student spokesperson but lose the right to chair court.

The government rejected the idea.

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