Cecil Rhodes statue to remain at Oxford college

Published: Friday 29th January 2016 by The News Editor

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A statue of British colonialist Cecil Rhodes will not be removed from the front of a college building, Oxford University has said.

The governing body of Oriel College said it decided after “careful consideration” that the statue should remain in place despite a campaign by student activists who claimed it represented racism and oppression.

The college said it received an “enormous amount of input” when it consulted on whether to keep the statue, including a petition by campaign group Rhodes Must Fall, signed by more than 2,000 people.

A counter campaign called History Must Stand gathered a similar number of signatures on a separate online petition.

A spokesman for the college said: “The overwhelming message we have received has been in support of the statue remaining in place, for a variety of reasons.

“The college’s governing body has decided that the statue should remain in place and that the college will seek to provide a clear historical context to explain why it is there.”

Rhodes served as prime minister of the British Empire’s Cape Colony, including South Africa, in the early 1890s and has been linked to apartheid-style policies.

The college spokesman said the presence of the statue was “an important reminder of the complexity of history and of the legacies of colonialism still felt today”.

Oriel College leaders said they would seek expert opinion on how to give context to the statue and a nearby plaque to Rhodes, which they will also keep in place.

But they admitted the campaign had raised the issue of discrimination on the campus.

The spokesman added: “The campaign to remove Oriel’s statue of Rhodes has highlighted other challenges in relation to the experience and representation of black and minority ethnic students and staff at Oxford. Oriel takes these very seriously and, as previously announced, is taking substantive steps to address them.”

The Daily Telegraph said a leaked report suggested the college could face making redundancies and an operating loss as alumni had threatened to pull donations and legacies over the row.

But the spokesman said the claim was “categorically not true” and the college “does not depend on donations to fund its operations”.

Rhodes was a student at Oxford and a member of Oriel College in the 1870s. He left money to the college on his death in 1902.

A scholarship programme in his name has so far been awarded to more than 8,000 overseas students.

But the college has distanced itself from his views, saying in a statement last month: “Rhodes was also a 19th-century colonialist whose values and world view stand in absolute contrast to the ethos of the Scholarship programme today, and to the values of a modern university.”

The decision comes after the University of Cape Town last year decided to remove a similar statue of the man, following a student protest.

Published: Friday 29th January 2016 by The News Editor

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