No name change for Rhodes University following council vote

The university council said in a statement that it had been a difficult decision to make and there were no winners from the process. (Sophie Smith)

The university council said in a statement that it had been a difficult decision to make and there were no winners from the process. (Sophie Smith)

The council of Rhodes University has voted against a name change for the institution citing financial constraints.

The university made the announcement today through a six page long statement by council - the highest decision making body - which was at pains to explain why the university would not change its name.

The decision was taken at a council meeting on November 30.

In the statement, council went into great lengths to explain that, just like other universities, it was going through financial difficulties which were also hindering it from performing some of the universities functions. And that for the past two years it had to approve a deficit budget.

And that because of the limited resources it could not embark on an expensive process of changing the university’s name.

However, it also acknowledged that there was nothing to celebrate about Cecil John Rhodes, whom is named after the university, but that over the years the university had established its own identity that cannot be associated with him.

“Since the issue of the name of the university came to the fore in 2015, strong views have been expressed in support of, and in opposition to, its retention. It cannot be disputed that Cecil John Rhodes was an arch-imperialist and white supremacist who treated people of this region as sub-human.

“There is also a general consensus that there is not much to celebrate about him and the way he went about doing things… It is worth noting, however, that there is consensus about what Rhodes University has come to represent in terms of academic excellence and the brand it has developed to stand out amongst the best universities in the world. This point is held both by the proponents and opponents of the name change,” reads the statement.

Council said out of 24 council members only nine voted for the motion to change the name and 15 voted against it.

Those who were against the name change felt : “It would not be prudent to rename the University and invest significant financial and other resources in a major international rebranding project with limited, if any, guarantee that the identity and reputation that have drawn learners and leading scholars from South Africa, the African continent and across the globe to our University would, at the very least, remain recognisable.” 

  Council Statement on Name of University by Christine Rupiah on Scribd

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