BREAKING NEWS: An Independent Commission of Inquiry underway for the Rhodes statue

A statement has been provided by the Governing Body of Oriel College.

In a statement provided this evening, Oriel College confirm that the Governing Body of the College has voted to launch an Independent Commission of Inquiry into the key issues surrounding the Rhodes statue.

In the Statement, The Governing Body formally expressed their wish for the statue to be removed, along with the King Edward Street Plaque.

Previously, a group of councillors had backed the removal of the Cecil Rhodes statue – with twenty-six city councillors signing a letter saying the statue at Oriel College was “incompatible” with the city’s “commitment to anti-racism”.

The Independent Commission of Inquiry will be run by Ms Carole Souter CBE, the current Master of St Cross College and former Chief Executive of the National Lottery Heritage Fund.

“The Commission will deal with the issue of the Rhodes legacy and how to improve access and attendance of BAME undergraduate, graduate students and faculty, together with a review of how the college’s 21st Century commitment to diversity can sit more easily with its past.”

As part of her inquiry, Ms Souter has said she will will gain formal feedback from a number of individuals in differing industries including law, politics, journalism, academia and education policy – intending to draw upon the greatest possible breadth and depth of experience, opinion and background.

In addition, the Inquiry has stated they will invite submissions from a broad range of stakeholders from Oxford, as well as other areas of the UK including:

“Students, representatives of Rhodes Must Fall and Oxford City council, as well as alumni of Oxford and Oriel and citizens of the city.”

The Statement further explains:

“Written and oral evidence will be requested. It is intended that some oral evidence sessions will be held in public, with similar rules of engagement to that of a parliamentary select committee.”

The College hopes that this decision is moving them “towards a serious, appropriate and productive resolution” and whilst Ms Souter has insisted on a thorough process, a report is expected to be delivered to the Governing Body by the end of 2020.

Gi Media will provide an update when it is understood how the public can be involved in this Inquiry.

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