Rhodes Scholars Demand Removal Of Rhodes’ Statue At Oxford

Alexa Santry Contributor
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Oxford University students are calling for the removal of an on-campus statue of Cecil Rhodes, a proponent of British colonialism in South Africa and founder of the De Beers diamond industry, Reuters reports.

Rhodes, who was alive in the late 1800s, was a student of Oriel College at Oxford and bestowed the school lots of money, which was partially used to fund campus construction and also used to create the venerated Rhodes Scholarship.

Protesters who oppose Rhodes’ imperialist ideals and colonization were addressed by the university chancellor Chris Patten, who stated, “Our history is not a blank page on which we can write our own version of what it should have been, according to our contemporary views and prejudices.”

“Our cities are full of buildings that were built with the proceeds of activities, the slave trade and so on, which would nowadays be regarded as completely unacceptable,” Patten continued.

Expanding on that point Patten notes that Rhodes’ ideas were likely “common to his time” and thus he should not be punished so severely decades later.

The chancellor’s comments were paired with claims of “hypocrisy” from people who criticize protesters as some of those who have benefited from the scholarship funded by Rhodes himself. These students have responded by saying that the scholarship “does not buy our silence.”

Some students mostly women or of African origin claim to have accepted the scholarship as a way to indirectly punish Rhodes for his actions, “knowing that Cecil Rhodes did not intend it [the scholarship] for us.”

These protests come months after similar protests against Rhodes at the University of Cape Town in which protesters successfully prompted removal of his statue in April. Similar protests have also been prevalent at U.S. universities in the past months.