• Fri. Apr 12th, 2024

The farce of Simon Fanshawe’s election

ByRoss Doran

Feb 28, 2024
Simon Fanshawe sitting in a pink suit, writing at a desk

In the University of Edinburgh’s own description of the rector’s role, it clearly states that the Rector must ‘ensure all voices are heard in making important decisions’ and for the rector to be a point of ‘contact for the University community.’ Therefore, it’s essential that the rector takes into account the interests of the community as a whole and serves as a representative for the whole student body. The election of Simon Fanshawe violates all these principles of representation. 

Fanshawe has a fairly impressive CV, a founder of the LGBTQ+ rights group, Stonewall and as an ex-chair on the University of Sussex’s council, which may, at a superficial glance, lead one to believe that he might be a valuable representative of our student body. Despite this, he has been a very vocal critic of Stonewall’s move in 2015 to embrace Trans rights, as a proud member of the anti-trans, LGB Alliance. At a time when it is socially acceptable to ridicule trans people in parliament in the presence of the mother of a murdered trans teenager, when a report by a trans charity revealed that 92% of trans teenagers before the age of 19 have contemplated suicide. Fanshawe’s election seems to further diminish trans rights and representation in this country and in our community. 

It’s vitally important that trans people receive meaningful representation at a time where the trans community is lambasted and derided by both mainstream political parties. Trans people are becoming slowly more ostracised by the political spectrum, continuously dehumanised by those in power. With another 1 in 7 trans people contemplating dropping out of University because of transphobic abuse, trans students are likely to feel even more isolated at this University as a result of Fanshawe’s appointment, an isolation which is likely to claim lives. 

There’s also the question of the electoral process. Fanshawe owes his mandate to no one as he was elected unopposed. It’s unlikely that a transphobic 67 year old man who was elected via an outdated electoral process will have any loyalty for students that he must represent on a broader basis. 

Fanshawe’s appointment makes a laughing stock out of the University of Edinburgh’s claim to represent and safeguard the voices of the marginalised and the student body as a whole.

IMG_2495” by Overseas Development Institute is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0.