Rhodes statue: 150 Oxford University lecturers boycott Oriel College

The move is a protest against the college’s U-turn on removing its controversial statue of imperialist Cecil Rhodes

Oxford University academics are boycotting Oriel College, Oxford over the college’s decision not to remove its controversial statue of Cecil Rhodes.

The college announced in May that it will not, after all, begin the process of removing its controversial statue of imperialist Cecil Rhodes, due to “regulatory and financial challenges”. This decision came despite a vote by the college’s board in June 2020 to take down the statue, and an independent commission. The vote last summer followed a campaign for the statue’s removal that began in 2015, as part of the global Rhodes Must Fall movement.

The 150 lecturers involved in the boycott will reportedly continue to deliver lectures, provide graduate supervision of Oriel’s master’s or DPhil students, take part in “examination of candidates who are Oriel students for university degrees” and “any duties specified” in their employment contracts.

However, it is reported they will not provide “discretionary” labour, such as giving tutorials to undergraduates from Oriel, attending talks, seminars or conferences, or taking part in outreach work, admissions interviews and assessment processes for fellowships and other Oriel College appointments.

A statement from the academics said: “The collegiate university can only effectively and credibly work to eradicate racism and address the ongoing effects of colonialism today if all the colleges do so.

“Oriel College’s decision not to remove the statue of Cecil Rhodes undermines us all.

“Despite votes in favour from its student common rooms and despite an earlier vote of the governing body expressing their wish to remove it, Oriel has now decided not to.

“Faced with Oriel’s stubborn attachment to a statue that glorifies colonialism and the wealth it produced for the college, we feel we have no choice but to withdraw all discretionary work and goodwill collaborations.”

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