Following our successful opening event (MatriculACTION) this past weekend – where over a thousand matriculating students wore red ribbons, and donned other red accessories with their subfusc, to highlight the blood shed as a result of the brutal project of colonialism, and protest against its uncritical glorification at Oxford through the open celebration of its perpetrators like Cecil Rhodes, and in many other ways – many members of the Oxford student body attended our first General Assembly (GA) meeting. The purpose of this assembly was to channel the collective will of the movement for big-picture decision making.
At this meeting, we introduced a model of participatory democracy for the purpose of collectively formulating our concrete immediate demands. And so people came with their ideas! They were drawn up into a petition that we plan to widely distribute and to use as a basis for our direct actions – some of which was highlighted at the meeting. We emphasised the urgency of the latter in particular – recognising the speed with which we need to act to put into effect our aim to engineer the fall of Rhodes – in the many ways in which his colonial mindsets and ideas remain embedded within our oppressive university.
The general format was as follows:
- Introduction – the facilitators spent 5 minutes welcoming everyone and going over our general aims and views.
- Grounding activity – Julian Brave NoiseCat is an enrolled member of the Canim Lake Band Tsq’secen in British Columbia, where he was recently nominated to run for Chief. He honoured the group by leading us in prayer – spoken in his Mother tongue.
- Introduce the GA – as with all of the processes that RMFO carries out, there are topics that are always covered, and are mandatory to make the space we occupy safe for minorities / oppressed groups. Thus we laid some fundamental anti-oppression ground rules that formed the structure of our discussion in a way that made sure those voices were heard and respected. Afterwards we outlined the objectives of the GA.
- Explanation of the process of General Assembly, handouts
- Brainstorm demands and petition – this is when we came up with a list of demands for the university / future aims of RMFO. All of these are listed below.
- Closing activity
The end of the GA was marked with a solidarity statement with the FeesMustFall movement in South Africa (as seen by the featured photo). The result of this meeting was a vibrant and positive momentum going forward into the new term, carrying our democratically decided aims with us.
|Remove/change colonial names/statues all buildings or/and acknowledge who build Oxford||Take down Rhodes statue|
|Change name of Oriental Studies department|
|Require trainings for staff and faculty of Oxford||Mandatory race workshops for students and staff|
|Address where money is coming from and where it is going||Rhodes scholarship money should go to colonised peoples|
|Colleges must divest and stop taking money from questionable sources|
|Decolonize curriculum||Put pressure on university to have modules in relevant subjects from non western sources|
|Reparations; return items||Return stolen artifacts to their countries of origin|
|Apologize/acknowledge||The University and institutions to acknowledge the questionable history|
|Funding||Providing funding for weekly or monthly newsletter about non-western politics and events|
|Diversity faculty and students||Diversifying faculty (e.g. no Black faculty in the African Studies centre)|
|Scrap interviews and subjective elements of the interview process|
|Changing the name course Classics and include race theory in the course|
|Train the members of department who check reading lists in diversifying the curriculum|
|Integrate post-colonial theory and writers of colour in required course work (specifically in the english department)|
|Porters and bouncers to have training on racism and sexism|
|All liberation campaigns in Oxford work intersectionally|
|Provide easy access to a breakdown to down the staff body is made up|
|Create a system for reporting oppression||There is a University-wide system to report oppression|
|Require anti-oppression education of all||Provide a mandatory unit for student on the impact of colonialism in the areas that they study in e.g. “Oriental Studies”|
|Update student name registration to accommodate non-western name structures/ longer names|
|Provide a broader spectrum of core modules|
|Put pressure on the University to acknowledge who actually built it|
|Provide a course and faculty for Sikh and Punjab studies|
|Educate people running tours of Oxford history and its current state|
|Put pressure on access to diversify the qualifications they accept for applications|
|Unconcious bias workshops for all people who admit student to Oxford|
|Provide courses focusing on North Africa|
|Have a blind admissions process|
|Have markers on buildings to make people aware they have been funded by exploitation|
|Change all buildings with the name “Rhodes”|
|System for policing problematic bop/ball themes|
|Get the University to acknowledge colonialism in Oxford and to create a curriculum for staff and faculty to raise awareness|
|Get the University to acknowledge and apologise for training the colonialists|
|Get the University to be explicit about the source of funding|
|Change the access system to incorporate people of colour (change from solely class discussion)|
|Make a stand to show RMF supports BDS and show support for West Papua|
|Scholarships for indigenous people (including Palestinians )|
|Have a compulsory lecture series about the nature of narratives (History, literature where people are excluded)|
|Diversify ALL curriculums includes the Sciences|