The incoming Rector, Serbian revolutionary Srdja Popovic, was in St Andrews over our Inter-Semester break. The Tribe was given the opportunity to interview him on his campaign philosophy and his plans for his tenure as Rector.  

 

Congratulations on a successful and well-run campaign! It was inspiring and exciting to see how much your campaign messages struck a chord with the students of St Andrews. Your campaign operated under a catchy, inspiring, and successful slogan: let’s start a revolution. Why exactly do you think this slogan rang true with so many students at St Andrews?

It’s in the nature of young people to seek change, and I think our slogan captured that. If there’s one quality St Andrews has before everything else, it’s great students and I’ve spent my life looking into what causes social change, the key ingredients are having a vision, building unity between different constituencies, and building numbers through that unity and around that vision. Over the course of my three year term, I want to build student engagement in fighting for the things that matter to them- whether in terms of housing, transport, or any of the other topics covered in my manifesto. The slogan encapsulated all of that in a very concise, memorable way.

 

Before being contacted by the students who would ultimately be your campaign team, what knowledge, if any, did you have of St Andrews and its students?

Before I got the email from the students running my campaign I couldn’t even find St Andrews on a map. When my future campaign manager emailed me, I had to double check he wasn’t a scammer, or stoned. However, I quickly learned to love St Andrews and the immense human potential contained within it. The best part of my campaign was getting to meet people in order to do this.

 

Has the current Rector offered you any helpful advice or information in regards to the rectorial position?

The previous Rector Catherine Stihler has been extremely helpful in giving me advice regarding my new position. I’d also like to thank the Principal, Sally Mapstone, and the Association President, Lewis Wood, for being similarly helpful.

 

What seem to be the most imposing challenges to keeping up with the grounds on which you ran your campaign (e.g. affordable accommodation, Brexit, transportation)?

The most important obstacle we need to address is dealing with student apathy. There is nothing on my manifesto that eight thousand highly motivated students can’t fix. That’s why my Rectorship will be based on helping students mobilise and organise: helping them to help themselves. To give a concrete example of this, we’re currently in the process of constructing a website onto which students can upload the details of their accommodation, and rate them in terms of quality and price, sort of like a TripAdvisor on a smaller scale to make renting easier, and act as an incentive for landlords to provide a better, cheaper service.

Anyone who wants more information should email jjr4@st-andrews.ac.uk, or rector@st-andrews.ac.uk or message the Srdja Popovic, St Andrews Rector Facebook page. Increased student participation is going to be especially important over the next six months, because a series of important strategic decisions are going to be taken by the University over that period. I’m going to be helping Principal Sally Mapstone to make sure as many students as possible involve themselves in the process.

 

Obviously it isn’t a necessity, or an expectation, for the Rector to be on campus all the time. But given your international citizenship and other commitments, how do you intend to keep your presence applicable to the students of St Andrews?

Firstly, I’ll always be available to St Andrews students via email (rector@st-andrews.ac.uk), or from my Facebook page, (Srdja Popovic, St Andrews Rector). In addition, I’ll be in St Andrews to hold surgeries and meet students whenever the University Court is in session, and I’ll be having monthly livestreamed conversations with the student body from The Students Union Facebook page. You can also get in touch with my very capable Rector’s Assessor Camilla at ctd3@st-andrews.ac.uk. Also, as I mentioned before, I plan to make changes in St Andrews by inspiring and mobilizing students to help themselves, so my presence on campus shouldn’t be necessary.

 

Lastly, did you have a favorite meme from your campaign?

image courtesy of Srdja Popovic

image courtesy of Srdja Popovic