Mother's union

May 17, 1996

Recent protests by Oxford Brookes University's Conservative Society against the naming of its student union building after the its chancellor Helena Kennedy QC, evoke a nostalgia for that long line of great rows that have surrounded the choice of names to adorn buildings housing these hotbeds of activism.

At Durham University in the middle 1980s it was proposed that the largest room in the union building be named after Nelson Mandela.

However, a bitter faction opposed this, saying that yet again women were being overlooked and demanding that the room be named after Winnie instead. The dispute led to a detailed analysis of the role of each character in South African politics at the time.

Luckily for both sides, and for future custodians of the union building, the students reached a compromise, naming the room, simply, Mandela.

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