On November 30, two years after the issue of the name of Rhodes University came under the spotlight and students began calling it the ‘university currently known as Rhodes’, the Rhodes Council has voted not to change the name. The decision, made as a result of the “university’s precarious financial position”, has been slammed by the Rhodes SRC.
A decision made by secret ballot saw 15 of the eligible 24 council members vote against the motion while 9 members voted for the motion to change the name of Rhodes University. The council voted after it received a report from a seven-member task team mandated to present all available information and issues to be considered on the future of the name of the university.
A press release from the university stated: “Given the university’s precarious financial position and the need for the University to prioritise 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.
“Council accepts that further actions must and will be taken to ensure that appropriate recognition is given to the hurt generated by the legacy of Cecil John Rhodes. It cannot be disputed that Cecil John Rhodes was an arch-imperialist and white supremacist who treated people of this region as sub-human,” the statement said.
The Rhodes SRC released a statement on their Twitter account saying: “It is of great concern that despite all the calls and lobbying for the university’s name to change, that the majority of the University Council has voted to keep the name. It is of even greater concern that the rhetoric of consequences and costs of the name change remains as the leading argument against the name change. We cannot find ourselves in a situation where we place finances above all moral considerations.”
They added, “We strongly encourage students to keep the subject of name change on the students’ agenda as this is an important fight that our generation ought to see through. The ripple effects of the systemic injustices fostered by Cecil John Rhodes and other colonial masters are still felt by students today and our institution cannot continue to honor these oppressors, directly or indirectly.”