A year and a half ago the University of Glasgow was in turmoil. The largest protest in its history – of over 2000 students – had taken place. Hetherington House was occupied by students calling for the Principle to resign. Police were involved in a heavy-handed eviction. The images of protesters dragged by police screamed from newspapers and broadcasters. The campus was energised with ignominy.
On March the 25th 2011 hundreds of staff and students crammed into the Bute Hall for a public meeting. I remember the passion and outcry. I remember the chants and the awkwardness. I remember the public relations handling by Charles Kennedy to save the jobs of the Senior Management.
Then I look to today. Today the University of Glasgow announced an expansion of its access program. A pilot study at the University found that if people just below the grade entry from less well off backgrounds are given university places, they excel. This pilot has been expanded across Scotland. Today the University confirmed its expansion to 800 places over the next 4 years. That is something to be proud of. It is how our University can meet its social obligations.
Today it was also confirmed that the University of Glasgow will hold Scotland’s first referendum on Independence.
There is no better a venue. Glasgow stands at the heart of Scotland’s political history through the likes of Adam Smith, John MacLean, John MacCormick, Donald Dewar, Winnie Ewing, Jimmy Reid, John Smith, Charles Kennedy and Nicola Sturgeon. It feels right that Glasgow is at the heart of the debate on Scotland’s future.
I graduate in June. When I think over my four years – times fractious, fun and fortunate – it is with pride that I will remember my Alma Mater.
Photograph: Wills Newman