Statement on the Decision of Oriel College to not Proceed with the Removal of the Rhodes Statue

We are disappointed to hear that Oriel’s Governing Body will not be removing the Rhodes statue due to the regulatory and financial challenges involved in the process. Dismantling systemic racism in Oxford is one of the greatest challenges this university community has faced, but we believe this is no excuse for inaction.  

This decision comes despite Oxford City Council's commitment to work with Oriel College to take clear action to address the legacy of colonialism linked with the Oriel College. As institutions and as individuals, we will be judged by our efforts in the face of adversity. Oriel College must do better, and Rhodes must fall.  

We await to hear what steps, if any, the wider University plans take to address an issue that has been long fought not just in Oxford but globally. Oriel students affected by this symbol of racism are also members of the University at large, and the statue looks down upon the whole of the Oxford community. We also wait eagerly for the University to add their voice to these efforts and will continue to work with them in good faith as members of the Race Equality Task Force. Part of the process of ending systemic racism is accountability, and we continue to remind staff from across the collegiate University that students are their partners and consultation is imperative for action and understanding. 

Cecil Rhodes is a symbol of colonialism, white supremacy, and racism, all of which have no place in Oriel College, nor any other part of this University. We agree with our members that Oriels’ commitment to anti-racism includes the removal of this statue. Attempting to pacify a Movement with an agreement to remove Rhodes but stopping short of fulfilling this must not happen.  

We are in contact with the JCR and MCR at Oriel College and look forward to working with student campaigners on this issue. We ask the Governing Body to reconsider its decision, and listen to the voices of the Oriel students, the students of this University, and the citizens of Oxford as illustrated in the report’s recommendations and proceed with the removal of the statue of Cecil Rhodes.  

 

Links and Resources for Students to Access Support 

  • Our Advice Service offers free, confidential and independent advice. They can be contacted by email at: advice@oxfordsu.ox.ac.uk.   

  • You can access the University’s counselling service at: counselling@admin.ox.ac.uk , where they offer free counselling in an individual or group format. 

What has Oxford SU been doing to tackle racism and promote racial equality? 

Race Equality Task Force and the Student Issues Working Group 

Two Sabbatical Officers, Nikita Ma (President) and Lauren Bolz (VP Graduates), sit on the newly established Race Equality Task Force. The purpose of the Race Equality Task Force is to make Oxford a more inclusive place for all by coming up with recommendations for the University to implement. Nikita Ma (President) also co-chairs the Student Issues Working Group of the Task Force, in charge of coming up with recommendations addressing the everyday challenges that students face. 

How can you get involved in our work at Oxford SU? 

Open Event: What’s next for the Race Equality Taskforce at Oxford? 

Wednesday 9 June, 4-5.30pm 

Get an update on Oxford SU’s work as part of the Race Equality Task Force and ask questions to those leading it. The speakers will update on the work of the Task Force and working groups so far, followed by a Q&A session. As the Race Equality Task Force now moves into its important engagement phase, the Open Event is one of the ways you can get involved as we strive to make positive and sustainable changes for the benefit of all in our community. 

Speakers will include: 

  • Professor Martin Williams (Pro-Vice-Chancellor, Education) 

  • Dr Rebecca Surender (University Advocate and Pro-Vice Chancellor for Equality and Diversity) 

  • Nikita Ma (President of Oxford SU, and Co-Chair of the Task Force Student Issues Working Group) 

Register and Pre-submit Questions for Speakers here 

 

Student Focus Groups 

A series of focus groups will take place this term to learn about students’ experiences, perceptions and ideas about race at the University. The sessions will be facilitated by Dr Jason Arday of Durham University, a researcher on race and higher education.  The Race Equality Task Force is seeking students across racial backgrounds, at all levels of study and from across the UK and the world. This will be a safe space for you to discuss your experiences and how we can build a university that is inclusive and where everyone feels a sense of belonging.  

Sessions will take place from 24 May and students can register their interest at https://forms.office.com/r/qg5ksS2bQM 

 

BAME Leadership Conference 

We run an annual BAME Leadership Conference in Michaelmas Term to empower BAME students to thrive in Oxford. Eight BAME Leadership Conference participants won in the 2021 Oxford SU Leadership Elections. 

CRAE (Campaign for Racial Awareness and Equality) 

CRAE, the Campaign for Racial Awareness and Equality, is an Oxford SU Campaign and dedicated to creating an inclusive student experience at the University. The committee has doubled in size this year and CRAE are planning lots of upcoming events. You can find out more about CRAE and join the campaign here: https://www.oxfordsu.org/campaigns/crae/ 

BAME RepComm 

We host twice termly BAME RepComms for common room reps. Entirely student-led and Chaired by CRAE. You can find out more about the next one here and we encourage you to contact your common room BAME reps to make sure your voice is heard here: https://www.oxfordsu.org/ents/event/2299/ 

 

Nikita Ma – President   
president@oxfordsu.ox.ac.uk 

Tucker Drew – VP Access and Academic Affairs   
vpaccaff@oxfordsu.ox.ac.uk    

Ben Farmer – VP Charities and Community   
vpcandc@oxfordsu.ox.ac.uk   

Lauren Bolz – VP Graduates    
vpgraduates@oxfordsu.ox.ac.uk   

Amelia Holt – VP Welfare and Equal Opportunities   
vpweo@oxfordsu.ox.ac.uk     

Alex Foley – VP Women   
vpwomen@oxfordsu.ox.ac.uk