University College’s JCR has voted to petition College remove the term ‘Rhodes’ from the name of its computer room.
The computer room was not named in honour of Cecil Rhodes himself, but rather a group of Rhodes scholars, a point addressed at the JCR’s General Meeting on Sunday, where the motion was proposed.
The motion was titled “Rename the Rhodes Computer Room”, with its full description seeming to imply that the room had been named directly after Rhodes.
At the meeting, there were questions and discussion over whether the room had been named after Cecil Rhodes personally or for some other reason. By the end of the meeting, consensus had been established to change the name regardless of which the situation was. It was also decided to contact the college archivist regarding the origin of the name.
University College student Suzanne Angliviel told Cherwell, “Univ JCR was indeed aware that a certain time inconsistency meant that the computer room could not have been named after Cecil Rhodes himself. It does however bear his name, since a group of Univ Old Members, who were also Rhodes scholars, paid for the College’s first computer room to mark the 80th anniversary of the Rhodes Scholarship.”
One argument raised in favour of removing the term ‘Rhodes’ was that it would dissuade BME students from applying to University College, especially in light of the publicity the Rhodes Must Fall in Oxford movement has attained.
Another University College student noted that the change would alleviate any ambiguity regarding the name.
The University College archivist, after the motion was passed, commented, “There was a Rhodes Scholars reunion in Oxford that year (I guess to mark the 80th anniversary of the creation of the Rhodes Scholarships), and to mark the event a group of Univ. Rhodes Scholars clubbed together to pay for the College to equip its first ever computer room. So the room was (and is) called the Rhodes Computing Room in honour of Univ’s generous Rhodes Scholars and definitely not after Cecil Rhodes himself.”
University College has, in response to this confirmation, stated, “We consider the room to have been named in honour of the College’s Rhodes scholars past and present, not Cecil Rhodes himself. In the light of these facts, the Junior Common Room and the College will consider together whether or not to rename the room for purposes of clarification later this term.”
In a follow-up email, members of the University College JCR were informed that, “Based on the discussion that was had, it seems college is responsive to our initial demands to consider renaming the room”; as a result, the email continued, “they would like further clarification on what the name should be changed to by Wednesday of 2nd Week.”
The motion passed without opposition.