Over 150 Oxford University academics are refusing to teach Oriel College students as a result of the college authorities declining to give into woke demands to hack a historic monument to Cecil Rhodes off its building.
The striking academics will, according to The Telegraph, cease tutoring Oriel students, pull out of all conferences, seminars and so on sponsored by Oriel, and refuse to help Oriel with any outreach work over a statue of Cecil Rhodes.
This follows the Oxford college deciding it would not submit to the #RhodesMustFall campaign aimed at Oriel’s memorial to the British imperialist, a former Prime Minister of the Cape Colony in southern Africa and a major funder of university scholarships who gave his name to the territory which later became Rhodesia.
“The extent of the upset is probably larger than what they predicted and it is possible that they may not realise the strength of feeling about this,” complained Danny Dorling, Halford Mackinder professor of geography at St Peter’s College.
“This is a way of making it obvious in case it’s not clear. Having your university associated with a statue of a racist is deeply upsetting and puts a smear on the whole university,” he added, as if Rhodes’s association with Oriel had not been a matter of public record long before the striking academics were ever involved with it.
Rhodes Won’t Fall: Oxford College Rejects Report Calling for Removal of Statue https://t.co/uEEvosnuZT
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) May 21, 2021
“To short-change undergrads on the basis of political posturing is fundamentally irresponsible,” commented Sir John Hayes, who leads the Common Sense caucus of socially conservative Tory MPs, arguing that the strikers’ pay should be “reduced accordingly”.
“When real, ‘adult’, ‘serious’ academics are threatening to deprive hundreds of students of their educations because of a statue is perhaps the point at which we maybe acknowledge that the culture war isn’t just some figment of the right-wing imagination,” said Telegraph columnist Madeline Grant.
Even some on the left were critical of the academics, with Tom Harris, the Brexit campaigner and former Labour politician remarking sarcastically: “I feel very sorry for these Oxford academics who accepted a job only to have a statue of Rhodes erected after they started work there.”
The Boris Johnson administration — which has claimed, somewhat dubiously, to have turned the tide against cancel culture in recent days — has offered rhetorical if not as yet substantive pushback against the strike, with Jacob Rees-Mogg, Leader of the House of Commons, saying “We must not allow this wokeness to happen.”
“I’m half tempted to say you should be lucky not to be taught by such a useless bunch,” Rees-Mogg said in the House of Commons.
“Rhodes is not a black and white figure, perhaps they’re not learned enough to have bothered to look up the history of Rhodes in any detail, which has been written about quite extensively now, and as I say, he is a figure of importance and of interest and of enormous generosity to Oxford,” he added.
“Do they want to give the money back to the descendants of Cecil Rhodes, or are they intending to keep it to themselves?”
“Students rightly expect to get a good deal for their investment in higher education and we would expect universities to take appropriate action should any student be seriously affected by these actions which could include compensation,” added a spokesman for Downing Street — strong words which nevertheless put the onus on the University of Oxford to actually do something about the strike in the first instance.
Sadiq Khan Claims Statue DEFENDERS Are the Ones 'Trying to Engineer a Culture War' https://t.co/iiUBtWpbWw
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) February 20, 2021