Leaders of an Oxford University college announced Thursday that the school will not remove its statue of imperialist Cecil Rhodes despite outcry, according to The Associated Press.
Oriel College “expressed their wish” to have the statue taken down in June 2020, even launching a Change.org petition. This prompted the commission of an independent study of Rhodes’ legacy, the AP reported. While most commission members reportedly supported the removal of the statue, the college decided not to go through with it.
“The governing body has carefully considered the regulatory and financial challenges, including the expected timeframe for removal, which could run into years with no certainty of outcome, together with the total cost of removal,” it said, according to the AP.
???? BREAKING: A controversial statue of Cecil Rhodes will remain at Oxford’s Oriel College after dons decided it would take too long and cost too much to remove it https://t.co/OpCh7Ag9Qh
— The Telegraph (@Telegraph) May 20, 2021
The college said it would instead focus on “improving educational equality, diversity and inclusion amongst its student cohort and academic community,” according to the AP. (RELATED: Winston Churchill Statue Covered Up After London Protests)
“It has been a careful, finely balanced debate and we are fully aware of the impact our decision is likely to have in the U.K. and further afield,” Oriel College principal Neil Mendoza told the AP.
Cecil Rhodes earned his fortune from mines, where miners were treated poorly and worked in harsh conditions during the late 1800s. A campaign to remove the statue has been ongoing for years but gained support during the Black Lives Matter protests last year, according to the AP.
The University of Cape Town in South Africa removed a statue of Rhodes after a student-led campaign rallied for its removal. Statues and monuments around the world frequently prompted protests and were sometimes defaced during the 2020 Black Lives Matter protests.