Following our triumphant protest outside of Oriel College a fortnight ago, RMFO gathered people together this evening to hear reactions to the protest and to plan the movement’s next steps in light of Oriel College’s recently published statements. We also took the opportunity to hold a brief discussion on the processes of consensus-based decision making within the movement and what form that might take with regards to responding collectively to Oriel College’s statements.
This morning, RMFO published a compilation of the various statements that have been made by Oriel College in the wake of the protest, with the intention that those attending the general assembly would print and annotate the statements with their reactions, ready to discuss at the meeting later on.
The general assembly kicked off with feedback on the protest: the overwhelming majority of people present found the protest to be informative and educational, and many enjoyed the physicality of the event. The handover of the petition to Oriel College was said to be a particularly poignant moment of the protest, stemming from the fact that the action was clearly carried out on the protesters’ terms.
A considerable amount of time was dedicated to discussing Oriel’s statements. Those at the general assembly divided themselves into smaller groups and discussed the language used and the problematic assumptions made in them. In particular, concerns were raised regarding the use of the word ‘benefactor’ to describe Cecil Rhodes and regarding the idea that the existence of the Rhodes Scholarship somehow ‘redeems’ Rhodes from the uncountable atrocities he committed.
This discussion led on to one about the need for transparency and horizontality within the movement and further reinforced ideas of what RMFO as a movement is and should be, focusing on the necessity of members and allies to take initiative and to be proactive in the fight against colonisation.
We then came up with a pool of ideas for a week of action in Oxford where students will visibly express the need for decolonisation in the various physical and intellectual spaces of the university. Our first point of action will be the use of a graphic overlay with the hashtag #Decolonisation in Facebook profile pictures…look out for those graphics on Facebook and be sure to use them as your own profile photos!