Under pressure from anti-racism campaigners, Oriel College at the University of Oxford has agreed to remove from one of its buildings a plaque commemorating the imperialist Cecil Rhodes.
It will also consider whether or not to remove a controversial statue of Rhodes that stands at the front of the college itself.
The decision follows a campaign by the Rhodes Must Fall in Oxford group, which last month petitioned the college to remove the statue, which it said prevented “an inclusive culture which promotes equality, values diversity and maintains a working, learning and social environment in which the rights and dignity of all its staff and students are respected”.
In a statement released yesterday, Oriel said that it would ask for council permission to remove a plaque put up privately in 1906 that celebrates “the great services rendered by Cecil Rhodes to his country”.
Regarding the statue, the college said that it raised “complex issues, which cannot be resolved quickly”.
“In the absence of any context or explanation, it can be seen as an uncritical celebration of a controversial figure, and the colonialism and the oppression of black communities he represents,” Oriel’s statement says.
It said that it would now start a “six-month listening exercise” on the future of the statue.
On its Facebook page, Rhodes Must Fall in Oxford said that the decision was a “victory” for its campaigning.
But it cautioned: “We find little sense in the immediate removal of the plaque of Rhodes while the fate of the colonialist’s statue remains uncertain, and apparently subject to further drawn-out bureaucratic processes.”
“We reiterate that universities are no places for genocidal colonialists, or any other such toxic figures. We will continue with our call that all violent symbolism be immediately expunged from educational spaces,” it added.