How very beautiful. I wish I had attended this fine institution. For real. Enough about me. Students protesting against institutional racism is nothing NEW. Yale and University of Missouri have experienced a wave of protests against institutional racism. In addition, in March 2015 the students at the University of Cape Town in South Africa protested and helped remove a statue of the British imperialist Cecil Rhodes-they called it #RhodesMustFall. Well it did. Now, the Rhodes Must Fall movement has made its way to England as students at Oriel College at Oxford University have convinced their school to take down a plaque commemorating Cecil Rhodes.
Who was Cecil Rhodes? Allow me to school you. You are welcome. Cecil Rhodes was a mining magnate (aren’t we all?). He was a pretty strong advocate of colonialism and founded the colonial territory of Rhodesia, now Zimbabwe and Zambia. Rhodes was a student at Oriel College, Oxford from 1873-1881 (Er…that can’t be right.) and left 2% of his income to the college upon his death in 1902-as you do. In addition, he endowed Oxford with the highly prestigious RHODES SCHOLARSHIP, which has enabled nearly 8K international students to study at the University.
The plaque has been on the campus since 1906 and was removed as a result of the petition: Rhodes Must Fall. An official statement released by Oriel College last week identified Rhodes as a “a 19th-century colonialist whose values and world view stand in absolute contrast to the ethos of the Scholarship programme today, and to the values of a modern University.” it also said that “the historical fact of Rhodes’s bequest to the College does not suggest celebration of his unacceptable views and actions,” and said they are committed to improve the “representation and experience of BME (Black and Minority Ethnic) students and staff.” The college also said they will conduct further outreach with BME students and would fundraise for graduate scholarships for African study. The college will also conduct a “six-month listening exercise” to hear from students and faculty as to what to do with the statue. Well done Oriel College.
I also wish to add that if you are a Rhodes Scholar then I have massive respect for you. It is quite an honour. It is the world’s OLDEST fellowship program and provides students with 2 years of full study (with an option for a 3rd year) at Oxford. The US handed out its first Rhodes scholarship in 1904 and recognises 32 Rhodes scholars each year-making it the largest delegation. Candidates from approx. 300 colleges/universities apply. Selection committees in each of the 50 states nominate students and its up to the regional committees to decide who will receive the 32 scholarships.
Famous American Rhodes scholars include:
Strobe Talbott (helped negotiate an end to the war in Yugoslavia in 1999)
former president Bill Clinton
You have to be pretty clever to be a Rhodes scholar. And nice too. Being nice NEVER hurts.