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University of Bristol set to finally rename Colston Street accommodation

The University of Bristol accommodation, currently known as Colston Street after 17th Century slave trader Edward Colston, is finally set to be renamed, ten months on from the University announcing that the name had been changed.

By Joe Green, News Investigations Editor

The University of Bristol accommodation, currently known as Colston Street after 17th Century slave trader Edward Colston, is finally set to be renamed, ten months on from the University announcing that the name had been changed.

The East Village Halls of Residence will now be referred to as ‘Accommodation at Thirty-Three,’ ten months after it was first announced that it would no longer be named ‘Colston Street.’

The name change had been announced in response to the Black Lives Matter movement, which triggered an initiative to review the names of university buildings linked to the city’s historical connections to the slave trade.

Deputy Vice-Chancellor Judith Squires had said in October 2020 that the accommodation would be renamed ‘No. 33’ in a blog post titled ‘Celebrating Black History Month.’

A statement made by the University to Epigram in February said that the renaming of the accommodation had been delayed, after consultation with Bristol City Council revealed that the proposed new name was ‘not in an allowable format.’

A spokesperson for the University also stated in February that the University had ‘put forward two iterations of an alternative name, along the same theme, and hoped to be able to formally announce the approved new name soon.

The blog post which announced the halls' renaming

‘We remain committed to removing the name of Colston from this accommodation as soon as we are able.’

It now seems that the University has finally followed up on this promise.

In a statement to Epigram, a University of Bristol spokesperson said: ‘Following consultation and advice from Bristol City Council we are pleased to announce the new official name for this student residence is now Accommodation at Thirty-Three.

‘The change has been made as part of our commitment to review relevant University building names and the University logo to ensure they reflect our current visions and values.

‘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 action to address this.

‘Changes to the website and external databases will take place shortly.’

The accommodation as is currently visible on the University of Bristol's website

Despite this announcement, at the time of publication, the residence is still referred to exclusively as Colston Street on the Accommodation Office section of the University’s website.

This means that for new students applying for accommodation at the University for the upcoming academic year, the Colston name will still have been visible across the University website.

The hall’s old name is also mostly used on the 'Current Students' section of the website, although a link to a facebook group for current residents does use the name ‘No. 33.’

Edward Colston's statue toppled from its plinth in June 2020 | Epigram / Rufus Atkins

The name of the halls referenced Edward Colston, a 17th Century Bristol trader who derived a substantial portion of his wealth from the transportation and sale of enslaved people.

The toppling of the Edward Colston statue in June 2020 during a Black Lives Matter protest sparked further debate around the memorialisation of Colston across the city, with the renaming of the halls supposed to be the first outcome of a wider review carried out by the Anti-Racism Steering Group prompted by the Black Lives Matter movement.

The initial announcement that the accommodation would be renamed had been welcomed by Bristol's Students’ Union, who tweeted in October:

‘We're really pleased to see that the University is taking steps to address issues raised by students with the renaming of Colston Street Hall.’

A petition calling on the University to revise the name also reached over 800 signatures.

Bristol University Halls still called 'Colston Street' four months after BLM-inspired renaming announced
Colston Street accommodation renamed as part of University’s Black Lives Matter pledge

Following the prolonged period between October's announcement and the name being officially revised, a spokesperson for Bristol SU told Epigram: ‘We’re pleased that the accommodation has been renamed following lobbying from students.

‘It’s disappointing that it has taken so long to do so and we hope the new name will soon be clearly visible for students on the website.

‘We’re continuing to work with the University to look at the renaming of other buildings.’

Featured Image: University of Bristol

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