Rhodes University Won't Change Name

December 7, 2017

The governing council for Rhodes University, in South Africa, voted 15 to 9 not to change the university’s name following years of debate, the Johannesburg-based TimesLIVE reported Wednesday. The university is named after Cecil John Rhodes, the British diamond magnate who held imperialist and white supremacist views.

A statement from the Rhodes Council identified dozens of considerations, central among them the financial cost of changing the name.

“Given the university’s precarious financial position and the need for the university to prioritize transformation and be responsive to the challenges facing our society while maintaining its enviable academic credentials‚ the university cannot embark on a process of changing its name that will divert the limited resources it has,” the statement said.

At the same time, the council said, there was “not much to celebrate about [Rhodes] and the way he went about doing things.”

The TimesLIVE article notes that the decision is likely to infuriate many on the campus. The University of Cape Town removed a statue of Rhodes in 2015 in response to student protests. Rhodes also remains a controversial figure at the University of Oxford, where his estate endowed the prestigious Rhodes Scholarships.

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