Bristol University Halls still called 'Colston Street' four months after BLM-inspired renaming announced

FULL ARTICLE

By Siavash Minoukadeh, Deputy Digital Editor

The University's website is continuing to refer to the city centre Halls of Residence using its old name, despite announcing that it had been renamed No. 33 in October.

Epigram has found that the University is still referring to its Halls of Residence under the name ‘Colston Street,’ across multiple pages on its website. This comes despite the University announcing four months ago that the building would be renamed ‘No. 33’ as part of the institution's response to the Black Lives Matter movement.

As of Tuesday evening, the Accomodation Office section of the University's website referred to the Halls exclusively with its old name, including on its search page which will be how most incoming students will find and select the Halls they want to apply to live in. The Current Students section of the website also mostly used the Halls' old name, although a link to a Facebook group for current residents did use its new name.

A screenshot from the University's website showed the old name continued to be used prominently

The renaming had been announced as part of a 7 October post on the University's Executive Team Blog celebrating Black History Month. The blog, written by Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Provost Judith Squires, set out what was being done to ‘address the effects of Britain’s colonial past on our institution.’

Professor Squires wrote that the renaming of the halls was to be the first outcome of a wider review of University building names being carried out by the Anti-Racism Steering Group saying:

Earlier this year we committed to reviewing the names of buildings named after families with links to the slave trade.  I’m pleased that, as the first formal outcome of this work, we have renamed our Colston Street accommodation as ‘No.33’
A screenshot of the blog post announcing the renaming

However, it appears that the renaming process has been prevented from taking place due to further consultations with Bristol City Council revealing that the new proposed name of 'No. 33’ would not be appropriate.

In a statement to Epigram, a University of Bristol spokesperson said: ‘As part of our commitment to review relevant University building names and the University logo to ensure they reflect our visions and values, we announced a simple name change for 33 Colston Street last summer. We recognised that having the name of Colston associated with one of our residences might create an environment that could be perceived as unwelcoming to many students, and wanted to take swift action to address this.

‘However, working with Bristol City Council it became clear that we were not able to do this without a consultation exercise which sadly revealed that the proposed new name, No.33, was not in an allowable format. We then put forward two iterations of an alternative name, along the same theme, and hope to be able to formally announce the approved new name soon, at which point we will then make the necessary changes to our own website and external databases. We remain committed to removing the name of Colston from this accommodation as soon as we are able.’

The announcement that the building would be renamed was welcomed at the time by Bristol SU and students, over 800 of whom had signed a petition calling on the name to be changed.

The old name for the Halls had been controversial because it referenced Edward Colston, a 17th century Bristol trader who derived a substantial portion of his wealth from the transportation and sale of enslaved people.

Colston Street accommodation renamed as part of University's Black Lives Matter pledge
Colston Hall's new name revealed

The University's decision to rename its building followed a summer of protest which led to Colston's statue in the city centre being toppled and thrown into the harbour. Other major institutions also announced name changes, such as the music venue in the city centre, renamed in September as Bristol Beacon.

Featured: Lucas Arthur / Epigram


Do you think the University has been quick enough to rename the building?

AUTHOR

Siavash Minoukadeh

Deputy Digital Editor 2020-21 | 3rd year Liberal Arts | Overcaffeinated