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More than 150 Oxford lecturers ‘refusing to teach’ over decision to keep Cecil Rhodes statue

Recommendations had been made for the statue of the 19th-century businessman and politician, who campaigners say was racist and represented colonialism, to be removed from Oriel College.
The college was accused of institutional racism after saying it would not remove the statue (Picture: AP/Getty)

More than 150 lecturers are refusing to teach students at an Oxford University college over its decision to keep a statue of Cecil Rhodes, it has been reported.

Recommendations had been made for the statue of the 19th-century businessman and politician, who campaigners say was racist and represented colonialism, to be removed from Oriel College.

But last month its governing body was accused of ‘institutional racism’ after saying that it would not seek to move the statue from the building.

The Telegraph now reports more than 150 lecturers have refused to give tutorials to Oriel’s undergraduate students following the decision.

They also reportedly pledged to withdraw from all talks, seminars and conferences sponsored by Oriel and stop their involvement in interviewing students and recruiting fellows unless the British Imperialist statue is removed.

Students began campaigning for the Rhodes statue to be removed in 2015, but demonstrations reignited last year after the statue of Edward Colston was toppled during Black Lives Matter protests in Bristol.

FILE - In this Wednesday, June 17, 2020 file photo, a view of the statue of Cecil Rhodes, the Victorian imperialist who supported apartheid-style measures in southern Africa stands mounted on the facade of Oriel College in Oxford, England. The controversial statue of Victorian imperialist Cecil Rhodes will not be taken down because of ???regulatory and financial challenges,??? the governing body of Oxford University???s Oriel College said Thursday, May 20, 2021. The decision follows a long-running campaign to remove the statue of a man who made a fortune in the late 19th century from gold and diamond mines where miners labored in brutal conditions. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham, File)
The controversial statue of Victorian imperialist Cecil Rhodes (Credits: AP)
OXFORD, ENGLAND - MAY 25: People attend an antiracism rally in Bonn Square on May 25, 2021 in Oxford, England. Today marked the first anniversary of the death of George Floyd, an American man killed by police in the US state of Minnesota, and whose death spurred the Black Lives Matter movement in the US, UK and elsewhere. The protesters marched to Oxford University's Oriel College, which announced last week that it would not be removing a statue of 19th-century imperialist and businessman Cecil Rhodes perched atop its entrance. Activists in the UK and South Africa have called for the removal of statues in his honour, arguing that Rhodes is the embodiment of white supremacy. (Photo by Laurel Chor/Getty Images)
Campaigners have argued that Rhodes is the embodiment of white supremacy (Picture: Getty Images)

The lecturers have been criticised by Lord Wharton, chairman of the Office for Students, who told the paper it would be ‘utterly unacceptable’ if students were left disadvantaged.

Tim Loughton, a former minister for children and families, added: ‘This is academic blackmail by a group of academics who think their own political views should trump everyone else’s, and if they don’t get their own way then any innocent students who happen to fall within their boycott will become the victims.’

An independent inquiry to examine Rhodes’ legacy was set up in June last year after the governing body of Oriel College ‘expressed their wish’ to remove the statue.

EMBARGOED TO 1930 THURSDAY JUNE 3 Scratch marks on the coat sleeves, from being dragged on the ground, on statue of Bristol slave trader Edward Colston, which was retrieved from the water after being toppled during a Black Lives Matter protest on 7th June 2020 and thrown into Bristol Harbour, is now being displayed at M Shed, Bristol, during the preview of 'The Colston statue: What next?'. Picture date: Thursday June 3, 2021. PA Photo. Photo credit should read: Ben Birchall/PA Wire
Calls for the Rhodes statue to be removed intensified when the Colston statue was toppled (Credits: PA)

Announcing its decision three weeks ago, the college decided against removal, arguing the time frame and cost were ‘considerable obstacles’.

A statement from the Rhodes Must Fall campaign in response described the decision as ‘an act of institutional racism’.

Oriel College has been approached for comment.

It comes amid another dispute over a decision to remove the Queen’s portrait at Magdalen College due to concerns over its ‘colonial links’.

Members of the Magdalen College Middle Common Room (MCR), which is made up of graduate students, overwhelmingly voted to remove the picture from their common room.

MORE : Edward Colston statue replaced with sculpture of Black Lives Matter protester

MORE : Slave trader statue toppled by BLM protesters to go on public display

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