Oxford University’s statue of Cecil Rhodes is to stay in place after furious donors threatened to withdraw gifts and bequests worth more than £100 million if it was taken down,The Daily Telegraph's Javier Espinoza has learnt (Update: cheers to Instapundit for the link).
The governing body of Oriel College, which owns the statue, has ruled out its removal after being warned that £1.5m worth of donations have already been cancelled, and that it faces dire financial consequences if it bows to the Rhodes Must Fall student campaign.
A leaked copy of a report prepared for the governors and seen by this newspaper discloses that wealthy alumni angered by the “shame and embarrassment” brought on the 690-year-old college by its own actions have now written it out of their wills.
The college now fears a proposed £100m gift - to be left in the will of one donor - is now in jeopardy following the row.
The donors were astonished by a proposal to remove a plaque marking where Rhodes lived, and to launch a six-month consultation over whether the statue of the college’s biggest benefactor should be taken down.
… Oriel has now been panicked into cancelling the proposed six-month consultation and the plaque marking the building where he lived while he was a student at Oriel will also stay, but both will have an accompanying sign providing historical “context”.
… Sean Power, Oriel’s development director and the man in charge of fundraising, told the governors in a report that the college was unprepared for the national and international condemnation of the suggestion that the statue might be removed, described by the classicist Professor Mary Beard as a “completely barking” plan to “erase” history.Punching back twice as hard.
Mr Power wrote that: “The overall reaction has been significant, much more than any in the College predicted. It has also been overwhelmingly negative of the College’s position and its actions.
“The likely long-term impact on development and fundraising, assuming our current course of action regarding the statue, is potentially extremely damaging…our alumni do not need many excuses not to give, and for many this will be such an excuse for years to come.
“The current situation is generating a media storm that is right at the limits of what the University can deal with, and support us in.”