A Bristol SU Facebook post supporting the renaming of Wills Memorial Building has attracted criticism from students.
The original post, which declared that ‘We think it’s time to give the Wills Memorial Building a modern name that fits University of Bristol’s image of inclusivity and diversity’ attracted more than 80 ‘angry’ reacts, compared to just over 50 ‘positive’ ones at the time of writing.
The comments were also disproportionately negative, with Elliot Gowers describing the SU as ‘run by a bunch of whiney babies who have no regard for history’, attracting 106 likes, by those who presumably agreed that ‘no one cares’.
BME Officer Radhika Jani urged students to consider why it is ‘an important matter to so many people.’
One student questioned on what authority the Bristol SU Facebook page was declaring their support, as to who exactly ‘we’ referred to?
In a statement, Bristol SU revealed the decision was made by the elected sabbatical officers.
‘As elected officers they have the mandate to make decisions on what campaigns to support, without decisions having to go through student council.
‘Democratically, if students would like to mandate them to have a particular view then students can do so via passing policy at student council. Students can also hold them to account on decisions that we have made at student council’, the statement read.
Other students were quick to counter criticism however, with Harry Kovenklioglu noting that it’s ‘your privilege not to be bothered by it’.
BME Officer, Radhika Jani commented that ‘names and language in societies are important. When you pair a whitewashed school curriculum where we really do not learn about the atrocities committed by the British Empire or Britain’s involvement in the slave trade in nearly enough detail, and then buildings, streets and commemorative statues that essentially honour known slave traders, we send a message as a society that we do not condemn Britain’s crimes with nearly enough conviction.’’
In response to those like Gowers who described such action as the reason ‘universities are looked down upon with such disregard and as havens for PC lefties’, she urged students to ‘take the time to consider why actually, this is such an important matter to so many people.’
‘This IS an issue and all relevant, also because the holdover effects of slavery can be felt very tangibly in today’s society – both through the intergenerational wealth inherited by those of European descent and the cycles of poverty etc communities of African descent have been locked in as a direct result of the practice.’
The petition has garnered more than 500 signatures.
What are your thoughts on renaming the Wills Memorial building? Let us know…