Students campaign for cat to become Scottish university rector

A group of students at one of Scotland's oldest and biggest universities are fighting for a cat to become their new rector.

The quadrangle at King's College, University of Aberdeen. Picture: Wikicommons

Buttons, a popular white cat who lives on the campus of the University of Aberdeen, has rallied support from hundreds of students online.

Alex Kither, a third-year history student and de-facto campaign manager for the white moggy, said that people were fed up with the student body not being represented.

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The 21-year-old claims that only a small percentage of students actively participate in campus politics at the University of Aberdeen which leads to “small but vocal minorities” representing them.

But the academic institution - which counts names such as Winston Churchill, Andrew Carnegie and Herbert Henry Asquith as former rectors - have denied Buttons’ the chance to stand.

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The University, established in 1495, has denied Buttons the opportunity to stand because he does not meet the requirements to be a charity trustee and is not human.

Alex says that the cat has all the qualities of a good candidate because Buttons lives locally, interacts with students and is fluffy.

Alex said: “We’d like people to write to the university and let them know that they want Buttons to be a candidate.

“In just a few days we were able to engage with more students than any of the other candidates.

“Buttons has all the qualities of a good candidate - he lives on campus, he interacts with students and he’s fluffy which is a quality that none of the other candidates possess.

“A lot of people have been unhappy with the level of the candidates -- with only the friends of the candidates becoming engaged with their campaign.

“People felt that the candidates didn’t represent the student body as a whole and instead represented small but vocal minorities.

“Last year, only around 60 people attended the hustings which is meant to be the big event in the electoral calendar.

“If the students feel like a feline would better represent them then maybe it’s time for reform.”

The campaign comes just two months after the university ratified a decision to scrap the rector election over allegations of “dirty tricks” by the campaign for Maggie Chapman.

A re-vote was called for after at least one other candidate wanted the Scottish Greens co-convener, the current rector, removed from the ballot in a row over hundreds of campaign posters being torn down.

A post on the Buttons for Rector condemned the final shortlist of “all human” candidates for rector of the University of Aberdeen as “outrageous”.

More than 300 people have signed a petition on Change.org calling for Buttons to be allowed to stand.

Alex added that he was only Buttons’ campaign manager because the cat lacked opposable thumbs.

And the history student pointed to other examples of animals in positions of political power as a sign that the “times are changing”.

He added: “You have Larry the Cat who is now an important figure at Westminster, Sir Nils Olav who is colonel-in-chief of the Norwegian King’s Guard and a cat in Alaska was mayor for 20 years. The times are changing.

“He’s a very independent cat so I can’t make him go to the hustings meeting if he doesn’t want to but I’m sure some of his representatives will make an appearance.

“Cats not bureaucrats -- that’s his slogan.”

Phil Hannaford, the election returning officer, has ruled that Buttons does not meet the requirements under the Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator guidelines to be a charity trustee.

Election co-ordinator Nicholas Edwards told the campaigners: “Both the returning officer and I appreciate Buttons’ interest in the role and wish him well in his future endeavours.”