Interview: Graeme Obree

graeme obreeIn your eyes, what makes the elections for the university rector important?

Positive input for young people is important and strong representation on behalf of the students in the University Court is vital to ensure the students voice has a place when important issues are being discussed in the University Court.

Your manifesto mentions the promotion of mental health awareness, what do you feel you could do as rector to promote that?

I feel my experience is vital in this respect. I will strive to offer a voice of encouragement to students who are facing mental health issues. It is well known I have faced many challenges and have made a significant personal journey to come to terms with issues – I am happy to address these issues candidly as it will raise awareness of some of the issues which are likely to affect others. Additionally it is vital to let students know there are facilities and organisations on campus who can provide guidance and help when needed.

Part of your own struggles in the past have been due to feeling ‘small and insignificant in a theatre the size of Glasgow University’ – how would you aim to ensure that students on campus do not feel the same?

I would strive to encourage a culture in Glasgow University which is open collective and friendly. Simply by engaging with others a lot of issues can be resolved. The Wednesday afternoon free for sport and other activities would offer a platform for people to integrate and become a small part of the bigger picture which is life at a contemporary university.

You’re being backed by both GUSA & LGBTQ+. Tell us a bit about what these organisations mean to you. Have you worked with them in the past? If you are elected, what would be your first plan of action?

My background is as a professional cyclist and I understand the sacrifice becoming an elite athlete takes. Encouraging sport across the student population in Glasgow University will not be directed at those principally targeting elite participation in their sports (I will offer encouragement to those who are) but rather across the broader spectrum of the student population to start to integrate exercise into their University Routine . I understand how sport can contribute to wellbeing, good health and is also great for meeting people and integrating. Sport can also be great fun and any encouragement I can offer for any students to be involved in physical activity. I have spoken many times on the need to promote diversity and equality. I cannot understate this as there is need to champion opinion on LGBTQ rights. As a modern University in competition with other educational institutions across the world it is vital Glasgow university adopts a positive stance in equality and diversity and I fully intend to add my weight to these efforts.

As you are no doubt aware, you are running against NSA whistle blower, Edward Snowden. Due to his unique circumstances, how do you feel an absent rector would affect campus? Is the political statement enough?

I have great respect for Edward Snowden – he has in effect made a life sacrifice in becoming a whistleblower and his role as a champion for human rights should never be forgotten. That said, I think the students of Glasgow university need a real voice and a real presence in the University Court and Edward Snowden will be unable to fulfil the key role of the Rector. For that reason I would suggest the campaign for his becoming rector is misdirected – there are many other activities the students could consider to send a message of support to Edward Snowden.

Finally, tell us why we should vote Obree in five words or less.

I will do my best!

 Made up your mind? Here’s a link to the voting page: https://frontdoor.spa.gla.ac.uk/vote/

[Jo Reid]

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