Like most St Andrews students, I normally dread on-campus elections. I associate them with overbearing campaigners outside the library, heckling passersby’s with megaphones and cardboard signs. Those weeks of campaigning, Facebook banners, and vague manifesto promises rarely grabbed my attention, and, like many others at this University, I found student elections to be a little tedious.
That’s why, under normal circumstances, I would have never even considered becoming invested in the upcoming Rectors election. But in the past few months at St Andrews, we’ve witnessed an immense lack of faith in the University system. Student-led movements, such as the anonymous St Andrews survivors Instagram page, demonstrate the feeling that we are left to confront many campus issues without visible support from the University. We are also seeing a rise of diverse and distinctive needs due to coronavirus, needs which cannot be addressed with a one-size fits all policy.
As a representative of the student body, the Rector plays a crucial role in amplifying the voices of all students and lobbying for social change at the University Court. This upcoming election, taking place on the 15th-16th of October, will determine who this representative will be for the next three years. All three candidates, Dr. Fiona Hill, Dr. Leyla Hussein, and Mr. Ken Cochran, have a lot to offer St Andrews and I strongly recommend you check out their policies. However, I firmly believe that Fiona Hill will represent the student perspective in the most effective, powerful way.
When I arrived here in St Andrews just over three years ago, I was confronted by the levels of wealth and inequality which have come to characterise many aspects of university life. I remember being one of the few state-schooled students in my hall, and like many other I felt like I didn’t immediately fit in here. A lot of the networking and social events revolved around costly ticketed balls, and a lot of the financial aid available was poorly communicated and often under-advertised. It was only after a couple of years that I started to understand how the University system operated and the forms of bursaries and support available to me. When I spoke to Fiona Hill a couple of weeks ago, I found out that she had experienced many of these same issues during her time here. Much like myself she had to work multiple jobs to cover her rent, she had troubles with student services, and she went through the difficult process of applying to multiple scholarships and bursaries. What connected with me most was her understanding of the system, and the struggles which many students confront when first heading off to university. Fiona has frequently voiced the need to ‘break the imposter syndrome’ so that all students feel comfortable in their own skin while here at St Andrews. For any student who has ever felt judged based on their background, insecure about their place here, or disenfranchised by the growing disconnect between the student body and the University, Fiona Hill is the right candidate to back.