The governing body of Oriel College, which is where the statue of Cecil Rhodes is located, has voted to launch an independent inquiry into the issues surrounding the statue of the controversial 19th century figure. In its recommendation the governing body has expressed its wish to remove the statue and the King Edward Street Plaque from public viewing.
It said the decision was reached after a “thoughtful period of debate and reflection” and took into consideration the global impact.
Carole Souter, the current master of St Cross College, will chair an independent commission into the issue.
In a statement, the governing body said: “The governing body of Oriel College has today voted to launch an independent commission of inquiry into the key issues surrounding the Rhodes statue.
“They also expressed their wish to remove the statue of Cecil Rhodes and the King Edward Street Plaque.
“This is what they intend to convey to the independent commission of inquiry.
“Both of these decisions were reached after a thoughtful period of debate and reflection and with the full awareness of the impact these decisions are likely to have in Britain and around the world.
“The commission will deal with the issue of the Rhodes legacy and how to improve access and attendance of BAME undergraduate, graduate students and faculty, together with a review of how the college’s 21st-century commitment to diversity can sit more easily with its past.”
In recent weeks thousands of demonstrators took part in a “Rhodes Must Fall” protest outside Oxford University.
The protests mirrored scenes across the UK from the Black Lives Matter movement following the death of George Floyd in the US.
Protestors began targeting several monuments around the UK – starting with the controversial statue of 17th century slave trader Edward Colston.
The statue in Bristol was torn-down by activists and thrown into a nearby river on Sunday June 7.
Victorian imperialist Cecil Rhodes was a former student at the famous institution and had been a central figure in Britain’s colonial project in southern Africa.
Cecil Rhodes is a divisive figure for many and is associated with creation of Rhodesia – modern day now Zimbabwe – while also supporting apartheid-like measures.
He was also a mining magnate and founded the De Beers diamond empire.
Cecil Rhodes amassed his fortune largely through the exploitation of African miners and secured power a number of imperial wars.
Following his death in 1902, Cecil Rhodes left the university money for scholarships which have been used by more than 8,000 students around the world.
In 2015 a student campaign modelled on the “Rhodes Must Fall” movement in South Africa that led Cape Town University removing his statue, failed to get the figure taken down from his pride of place at Oxford.
This is a developing news story, more to follow.
Published at Wed, 17 Jun 2020 19:26:00 +0000