A magnificent April Fool’s joke in today’s Times, but one that scrapes the knuckle of truth. In short, students from Imperial College and King’s College have demanded the two colleges be renamed in order to ‘decolonise and demisogynise higher education.’ Student Union members claim the names are ‘symptomatic of the historic and structural racism and sexism that cause daily microaggressions to students of colour and those who self-identify as female.’ Two new names have been suggested: Gaia College and Citizens’ College.
Frederick Chetwynd-Talbot, President of the King’s College Indigenous People’s Society believes the existing names are ‘inimical to a place of learning that claims to offer a safe space for all.’ For him it is ‘about the intersectional oppressions suffered each and every day by people of the Global South, and members of the LGBTQ community.’ There is to be a vote tonight in the Saif Gaddafie room, built from a bequest by the late Libyan leader’s son.
What can I say? Today’s April Fool, tomorrow—who knows? Rhodes has escaped by a narrow squeak, for the moment. In America the process is already gaining momentum, until the pendulum turns. In Pennsylvania, the Lynch College Memorial Hall provoked students there to demand a name change because of its racist connotations. In fact the hall is named after one of its past presidents Clyde Lynch, a 1930’s benefactor and fundraiser behind the building of the memorial hall. Now had the hall been named after the Virginian planter, Charles Lynch, whose ad hoc courts tried and ‘lynched’ British patriots during the American Revolution, those students would have something to shout about. I already feel a microaggression coming on. Pass me the smelling salts
What has been your best April Fool this year?