The University of Oxford has decided not to take down a statue of Cecil Rhodes at its Oriel College despite alumni threats to withdraw millions in donations, the college announced. The statue, like a plaque about Rhodes elsewhere on the campus, has been caught up in the debate that has swept campuses in Britain, the U.S. and elsewhere about honoring historical figures whose pasts included racist or other detrimental acts or statements.
Rhodes, the British imperialist whose bequest endowed the Rhodes Scholarships, has been at the center of the debate in Britain. In December, Oriel College officials said they had begun the process of removing the plaque honoring Rhodes and would review the status of the statue, describing the plaque's wording praising Rhodes as "inconsistent with our principles."
But in the announcement Thursday, Oriel officials said the "listening exercise" the college had undertaken in December had elicited an "enormous amount of input," overwhelmingly in favor of leaving the statue in place. "The college believes the recent debate has underlined that the continuing presence of these historical artifacts is an important reminder of the complexity of history and of the legacies of colonialism still felt today. By adding context, we can help draw attention to this history, do justice to the complexity of the debate and be true to our educational mission."
British newspaper reports indicated that Oxford and Oriel have received threats to withdraw millions of dollars in gifts if the statue was removed, though the college's statement dismissed the idea that financial considerations were a factor.
Rhodes Must Fall, the student group leading the opposition, said in a statement on Facebook that the college's decision "breached the undertakings it gave to all students in its December statement. In December, Oriel said that the plaque's display was 'inconsistent with' the college's 'principles.' It seems that Oriel no longer believes this to be the case. This recent move is outrageous, dishonest and cynical. This is not over."
A group of research universities will work with three Hispanic-serving universities on a project aimed at increasing the number of Latino professors in humanities fields, funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and led by the University of Pennsylvania's Center for Minority Serving Institutions.
The collaboration, announced by the Penn center Thursday, aims to prepare 90 students from Florida International University, the University of Texas at El Paso and California State University Northridge to enter doctoral programs at one of five predominantly white universities within five years. The universities are: New York and Northwestern Universities, the Universities of California at Berkeley and at Davis, and Penn.
Mellon will provide $5.1 million for the program, Pathways to the Professoriate.
In an email to a group called the Missouri 100, Wolfe accused the former chancellor of Missouri's Columbia campus, R. Bowen Loftin, of stirring up controversy to try to protect his own job, and criticized the football team’s decision to go on strike. He also urged supporters to "pick up the phone" or email members of the university's governing board to urge them to provide Wolfe with more compensation in his resignation agreement, so he can "continue to play a significant positive role in the future."
An influential Republican state senator has criticized Ray Cross, president of the University of Wisconsin System, for meeting with student leaders last week to talk about how to improve the climate for minority students, The Wisconsin State Journal reported. Steve Nass, vice chairman of the Senate University and Technical Colleges Committee, issued a press release in which he said Cross shouldn't have held the meeting. "President Cross needs to stop wasting time appeasing the political correctness crowd demanding safe spaces, safe words, universal apologies for hurt feelings and speech/thought police," Nass said in a press release he issued.
A university system spokesman declined to comment on the statement.
The Education Department's Office for Civil Rights has pledged to make it easier for prospective students to find out if colleges they may want to attend have applied for or received exemptions to parts of Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972. Under the law, religious colleges may receive exemptions to provisions that conflict with the teachings of their various faiths. In the last two years, many such colleges have sought and received exemptions that apply to gay, lesbian and transgender students. Many of these colleges bar those in same-sex relationships or who are transgender from being either students or employees. The Education Department has responded to requests for names of the colleges receiving exemptions, but some groups and some lawmakers have said the department should go further and make sure this information is public.
In a letter this week to senators who have raised the issue, Catherine E. Lhamon, assistant secretary for civil rights, said OCR would do so. She said the department will soon start posting all requests and responses for exemptions with a tool for people to search the documents. She said she agreed that this information should be available, consistent with her push for more transparency on the agency's work.
Being a minority of any kind in academe can be difficult, writes Manya Whitaker. But you can be much happier if you don't force relationships with people whom you are not naturally inclined to befriend.