Following the tumultuous #RhodesMustFall campaign in South Africa late last year, students at Oxford University in the UK have called for a statue of Cecil Rhodes to be removed from Oriol College. They say the university must distance itself from its colonial past.
Oxford chancellor, Lord Patten, said in a public statement that after much discussion, the university “would not pander to contemporary views and prejudices”.
Patten also said, “Our history is not a blank page on which we can write our own version of what it should have been.”
Patten pointed out that many of Oxford’s buildings “were constructed using the proceeds of activities that would be rightly condemned today”. (There is to be found on campus a statue of Christopher Codrington, the 19th century slave owner, at All Souls, and a library named for the man. There are also other names linked with Rhodes – the Rhodes computer room at University College and Rhodes House.)
Architectural experts say it would be impossible to remove the statue for various reasons; for example, its intricate relationship with the structure into which it has been incorporated.
Louise Richardson, Oxford’s new vice chancellor and the first woman to take the helm at this ancient place of learning, disputed the view that university management had censored
student free speech by its firm and final decision to retain the statue in its current location.
Category: Autumn 2016