Despite student protests demanding the removal of a controversial statue, Oxford University has decided to keep the monument of Cecil Rhodes, the school announced yesterday.
Rhodes was a 19th century businessman and colonial politician, and is seen as one of the early architects of apartheid in South Africa. Students said the statue represented colonial-era racism and white privilege, and was an affront to them in their daily lives at Oxford.
But Oriel College, which is home to the statue, decided this week to keep the statue in place, because they received "overwhelming" messages in support of the statue. The college released a statement Thursday announcing that the monument will stay, with an added placard to "provide a clear historical context to explain why it is there." The statement went on to say that the debate surrounding the statue has raised issues about how black and minority students at Oxford are treated, and that the college is taking "substantive steps" to work on those issues.
Students campaigning against the statue argued that removing it was not about trying to re-write history or deny the racism inherent in Britain's colonial past. They said the statue glorifies and tacitly endorses Rhodes' oppressive politics.
"This recent move is outrageous, dishonest, and cynical. This is not over. We will be redoubling our efforts and meeting over the weekend to discuss our next actions," student group Rhodes Must Fall said in a statement.
The Telegraph reported that the college may have made the decision because of threats from wealthy donors that they would withdraw donations if the college removed the statue.