Cecil Rhodes statue will not be removed for now, says Oxford college

An Oxford University college will not remove a statue of British imperialist Cecil Rhodes despite an independent commission supporting its removal.

Oriel College said in a statement it would not “begin the legal process” of moving the Rhodes statue at this stage due to “regulatory and financial challenges” presented by its removal.

The statement also said the removal of the statue would be subject to legal and planning processes involving the secretary of state for housing, communities and local government, ロバート・ジェンリック, who in January said he would introduce changes to the law to protect statues from what he called “baying mobs”.

Oriel’s decision has angered some anti-racism campaigners who said it exposed the “insincerity” of the college’s stated commitment to change.

The commission was set up last June after the governing body of the college voted in favour of removing the statue. The commission was asked to look into the issue after a statue of the slave trader Edward Colston was torn down in Bristol at the height of last summer’s Black Lives Matter protests in the UK.

A majority of the commission’s members supported the expressed wish of the governing body to remove the statue. The commission also urged Oriel College’s governing body to publish a definitive statement of its view concerning its association with Rhodes and that the college revise materials to ensure they are consistent with the statement.

The college said in a statement that a majority of the submissions to the commission backed the retention of the statue.

Simukai Chigudu, an associate professor of African politics at the University of Oxford, described the decision from the governing body as chilling. “The statement from Oriel College is shocking and, quite frankly, embarrassing. It exposes the insincerity of the college’s stated commitment to change, which was made last summer during the anti-racism protests.

“Most chilling however is the waffle and obfuscation in the college’s statement. The statement claims that the process of removing the statue would be too expensive and would yield no certain outcome. What does that mean? As an alternative to taking down the state, Oriel says they will increase provisions for BAME students. But framing this as a binary choice is both false and insulting.”

Shaista Aziz, Oxford city council member for inclusive communities and a member of the independent commission, said the report reflected on the wider issues around race, class and representation at Oriel College, the wider university and crucially the city of Oxford, a diverse and multiracial city.

“The commission’s recommendations on the future of the statue are clearly laid out in the report, it’s up to the college’s governing body to decide how it wants to move forward with the recommendations. The commission maintains its independence and has shown it’s listened to a wide group of people with a range of views," 彼女は言いました.

Dr Samir Shah, vice-chair of the Policy Exchange’s History Matters project, 前記: ‘“Despite taking the recommendation of the commission into consideration, Oriel has chosen to focus its efforts on making Oxford a more diverse and open institution. 要するに, Oriel has rightly decided not to spend time on a fruitless effort to change the past, but to plough resources into trying to change the future, especially for ethnic minority young people.”

Lord Mendoza, provost of Oriel College said: “It has been a careful, finely balanced debate and we are fully aware of the impact our decision is likely to have in the UK and further afield. We understand this nuanced conclusion will be disappointing to some, but we are now focused on the delivery of practical actions aimed at improving outreach and the day-to-day experience of BME students. We are looking forward to working with Oxford city council on a range of options for contextualisation.”

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