Rector’s Election – Where do Our Candidates stand on Sustainability?

As with every election, sustainability is on the ballot.


Disclaimer: This article is entirely in the opinion of Permanent Local Contributor Cara Nicholson. It should not be considered as an endorsement from UnEarth.

With the Rector’s Election taking place this week, it is crucial that we critically assess the numerous candidates in contention. As Rector, the winning candidate will represent students on the University Court, the highest University governing body, and will push for the changes that the student body demands. Each candidate comes from a strong and diverse background, with Fiona Hill a St Andrews alum and foreign policy expert, Leyla Hussein a psychotherapist and campaigner for gender rights, and Ken Cochran a St Andrews alum who has worked for the NHS and has experience in upper University management. 

The campaigns of all three candidates focus on a range of key issues, including affordable housing, racial equality, and sexual assault. One of the issues most important to the University, and to Hill, Hussein and Cochran, is sustainability. As a world class institution, St Andrews should be leading on climate action of all kinds, and they should have a Rector who is similarly committed to environmentalism. So, what are their plans and policies for making St Andrews a truly sustainable University?

Leyla Hussein plans on encouraging the discourse around environmental intersectionality, participating in and promoting student sustainability activities, hosting open forums to discuss the University’s environmental strategies, and to combat climate anxiety within the student body. She also emphasises the importance of focusing on comprehensive solutions and alleviating the pressure students face to solve the climate crisis. Since Hussein’s primary campaign theme is to take action and to pressure the University into making concerted change, she would be effective in implementing these ideas if elected. 

Leyla Hussein plans on encouraging the discourse around environmental intersectionality, participating in and promoting student sustainability activities, hosting open forums to discuss the University’s environmental strategies, and to combat climate anxiety within the student body.

Fiona Hill’s key sustainability plans run along similar lines as those of Hussein. Hill plans to hold the University accountable on its plans for carbon neutrality and to support student sustainability initiatives. She also mentions the importance of a University-wide social responsibility ethos, the necessity to abate student eco-anxiety, and the saliency of a climate justice approach. With a campaign built around speaking truth to power, Hill would make sure to promote sustainability within the upper echelons of University decision-making.

Hill plans to hold the university accountable on its plans for carbon neutrality and to support student sustainability initiatives. She also mentions the importance of a University-wide social responsibility ethos, the necessity to abate student eco-anxiety, and the saliency of a climate justice approach.

Ken Cochran diverges slightly from the other two candidates by focusing more on immediate local solutions. His campaign centres around achieving carbon neutrality through new energy sources, such as solar panels on the buildings of David Russell Apartments. He also discusses the need for reduced travel, remote working, and sustainably-powered transport. Additionally, Cochran emphasises that the University needs to push further than the implementation of a biomass plant and a plan to construct the Kenly Windfarm. Cochran’s overall campaign is focused on effective change, which is strongly linked to his sustainability policies. 

Ken Cochran diverges slightly from the other two candidates by focusing more on immediate local solutions.

Leyla Hussein, Fiona Hill and Ken Cochran each have ambitious sustainability platforms. Whatever your views surrounding environmental action in St Andrews, each of the Rectoral candidates have placed sustainability as a central pillar of their manifestos, and if elected, will surely make great changes within the University. If you want to help realize this change, then this is your chance to have your say. Whoever you choose to support, be sure to vote on the 15th and 16th of October!

Art by Claire Pei

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