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Oxford University in controversy over Cecil Rhodes statue

Oxford University in controversy over Cecil Rhodes statue

Posted June. 19, 2020 07:35,   

Updated June. 19, 2020 07:35


With the recent global anti-racism movement and the subsequent re-eval‎uation of historic figures, Oriel College at Oxford has found itself mired in internal debates. Some students and staff who are calling for the removal of the statue of Cecil Rhodes (1853-1902), a mining magnate who attended the college in the 19th century and led the colonizing of Africa, have been met with opposition from some of the alumni of the college. Funded by his fortunes, the Rhodes Scholarship has provided education opportunities for many including former U.S. President Bill Clinton and former U.K. Prime Minister Tony Blair.

According to BBC, the Oxford college said in a statement that the college would take down his statue that symbolizes imperialism and colonialism and launch an independent commission of inquiry into the legacy of Cecil Rhodes. Its plan is to remove the statue early next year after discussions with experts in politics, laws and the media. Rhodes attended Oriel College before he went to Africa, and his statue is placed on the façade of the college.

The removal of the statue has been demanded since 2015. However, the beneficiaries of the Rhodes Scholarship said they would withdraw more than 100 million pounds’ worth of donations if the statue was taken down as Oriel College moved to remove it in the following year. The college is now demanding the removal again amid the anti-racism movement. “We will improve access and attendance of BAME [black, Asian and minority ethnic] 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,” the college’s commission said.

Youn-Jong Kim zozo@donga.com