The long-running drama over the statue of Cecil Rhodes, the benefactor of Oxford University’s Oriel College, takes a new turn. After the college authorities stood their ground against the student led Rhodes Must Fall protest things have moved on to the academics taking protest action. Now 150 Oxford academics have signed up to a genteel “work to rule” industrial action over the college’s refusal to topple Rhodes:
A Statement of a Boycott of Oriel College
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. There have been many letters sent and protests made, most recently in the Rhodes Must Fall movement but, as noted in a letter signed by over 300 Oxford academics, these began in 1899. In 2016, Oriel reneged on a listening exercise and now it has ignored the recommendation of a Commission of Enquiry that included academics, journalists, Oxford city councillors, university administrators, and the College’s own alumni.
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. With regret, then, we, the undersigned, agree that until Oriel makes a credible public commitment to remove the statue, we shall:
- refuse requests from Oriel to give tutorials to
- refuse requests from Oriel to give tutorials to Oriel undergraduates;
- refuse to assist Oriel in its outreach and access work, including undergraduate admissions interviewing;
- refuse to participate in recruitment and assessment processes for Fellowships at Oriel and other Oriel College appointments;
- refuse to attend or speak at talks, seminars, and conferences sponsored by Oriel.
Our action does not involve the following work for Oriel which is not discretionary:
If the dons follow through on their “work to rule” plan they will basically only damage students by denying them tutorials. To coin a phrase “Tutorials Must Fall”…