Glasgow University students have a long and proud tradition of electing student rectors to represent their political views – from ANC leader Albert Lutuli to, in 2005, the Israeli whistleblower Mordechai Vanunu. The campaign to elect Edward Snowden is set firmly in that tradition. Once every three years we Glasgow University students have a powerful opportunity to air our opinion on an issue of our choosing.
We have chosen to nominate the whistleblower Edward Snowden in order to show our support for his actions and our disgust with the perverse desire of the security services to monitor our every keystroke. Snowden's chilling revelations are well known; their impact too vast to reiterate here. But what is clear is that all of our personal communications are now subject to invasive scrutiny by state security.
This is not acceptable.
Nor is the treatment of Edward Snowden, particularly now that threats to his life have emerged. The UK Government's response to this scandal has been woeful, as has the coverage in certain sections of the press. The rectorial contest will give us an invaluable platform from which to have a public debate - one that has been all too absent in government and media circles - about our right as citizens to lead our lives away from the gace of spies and spooks. Key to this campaign is the widest possible participation of supporters both on and off campus.
We have already had an overwhelming response to the nomination and over the coming weeks will build the campaign against state surveillance. We are optimistic that the energy and enthusiasm of our supporters will see Snowden elected to this centuries-old position, but the work will not stop there.
If elected, we will continue to campaign for Snowden to be recognised as a hero, not a traitor, and for the citizens of this country and beyond to have a democratic say on their right to privacy.
We do not pretend that Snowden will be a working rector. He may never be able to even set foot on campus. But we have been here before with no ill effect on student representation. When else will we be able to speak clearly on our opposition to pervasive state surveillance?
Student representation takes many forms: from the Hetherington Occupation and mass protests of 2011 to our elected representatives on the SRC. We have no doubt that each of the other rectorial candidates would carry out the role with commitment and diligence but we cannot, and should not, rely on those outside the student body to fight our battles for us. From Ross Kemp to Charles Kennedy's inauspicious second term, we have been let down time and time again by working rectors whose tenures have been characterised by absenteeism and complacency.
By electing Edward Snowden we will speak clearly to a global audience and live up to our institution's motto: Via, Veritas, Vita. In other words, we will give up a little and gain a lot. We will reaffirm our reputation as students with concerns reaching far beyond campus and as students committed to the freedoms and liberties which are essential to our studies and lives beyond.
The practices of GCHQ and the NSA are fundamentally at odds with an open, free and democratic society. Throughout our campaign we will not only highlight this appalling incursion into our private and personal lives but celebrate all whistleblowers who risk their lives and livelihoods to expose corrupt and immoral practices by the state and other powerful groups.
We already have a number of exciting events lined up, including talks by the police whistleblower Stephen Hayes and the journalist Yvonne Ridley. And in the run-up to the election we will be out on campus engaging with as many students as we can, having the first in what we hope to be a long series of conversations about state surveillance and whistleblowing.
These concerns do not just have an impact on the students of Glasgow. They effect everyone who has ever logged-on, picked up a smartphone or engaged with any kind of digital communications technology. We strongly encourage all students, and indeed everyone who supports Snowden and the courage of whistleblowers, to join us in our campaign.
If you would like to get involved in any way, or for more information, please visit us on facebook.com/edwardsnowdenforrector or email us: firstname.lastname@example.org