Article Lead Image

Edward Snowden is in the running for rector of this Scottish university

If he wins, he'll be allowed to work remotely.


Gavia Baker-Whitelaw

Internet Culture

Posted on Jan 22, 2014   Updated on May 31, 2021, 8:38 pm CDT

Exiled NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden has just revealed his latest foray into public life: A bid to become the Rector of Scotland’s Glasgow University.

The three-year post is mostly a ceremonial role, with the rector being as absent or as hands-on as they prefer. Elected by the student body, their job is technically to represent the needs of students when dealing with governing body of the university, but several previous Rectors have been elected purely to send a political or social message. 

Most recent rectors have either been celebrities or politicians, with the post currently being filled by member of parliament Charles Kennedy, the former head of Britain’s Liberal Democrat party. There is precedent for electing more controversial figures as a sign of support, however, with Winnie Mandela taking over as Rector from 1987 to 1990, and Israeli whistleblower Mordechai Vanunu being elected in 2005, with the understanding that he’d never actually be able to set foot on campus because he wasn’t allowed to leave Israel.

With Snowden still unable to leave Russia, his nomination is primarily a show of solidarity from the students of Glasgow University. A spokesperson for the group who nominated him said to the BBC, “Edward Snowden’s candidacy is a unique opportunity to show our gratitude to a brave whistleblower. He has shown a spirit of daring and self-sacrifice that is virtually absent in our public life.”

With the other nominees being a professional cyclist, a clergyman and Scottish novelist Alan Bissett, it seems likely that Snowden’s notoriety may actually lead to him being elected as Rector of a university he’s never visited in real life. Definitely a far more unusual job than your average telecommuter. 

Photo via mikethomson75/Flickr

Share this article
*First Published: Jan 22, 2014, 2:52 pm CST