07/12/2017 10:23 GMT | Updated 07/12/2017 10:28 GMT

Rhodes SRC Decries Finances Trumping Moral Considerations

The Eastern Cape university has announced it will not be changing its name.

Photo by Gallo Images / The Herald / Eugene Coetzee
GRAHAMSTOWN, SOUTH AFRICA; OCTOBER 19: Rhodes University vice-chancellor Dr Sizwe Mabizela with students protesting over an increase of tuition fees.

Rhodes University's Student Representative Council (SRC) president Rolihlahla Mabaso on Thursday said it was unfortunate that the university council was using finances as their main argument for not changing the name of the university.

It was revealed on Wednesday that the institution's council had voted on the matter, resulting in 15 out of 24 members voting against a motion to change the name.

"This point continues to embroil us in Cecil John Rhodes' legacy, and we can't find ourselves in a situation where we place finances against all moral considerations," said Mabaso.

He added: "It is of great concern that despite the calls and lobbying for the university's name to change, that majority of the university council decided to keep the name."

He also explained that the name change was a popular idea at the transformation summit held at the end of July. The summit met to consolidate and provide drive the university's transformation journey.

"The name change was a topical issue at the recently held transformation summit. It was clear that majority of stakeholders present were in support of the name change," he said.

Mabaso urged students to continue working towards transformation.

"We really hope that students put the name-change agenda on the table again next year. We just hope that change is imminent."

"Our hope is that the demographic of council will change and the thinking of council. I don't know If I want to play the race card, but the majority of them are white," Mabaso said.

While the university council admits Cecil John Rhodes' legacy is that of an "arch-imperialist and white supremacist who treated people of this region as subhuman", it said the values embodied and celebrated by the university were very different.

"Rhodes University has, over more than a century, developed a unique identity of its own, which is separate from, and far transcends, the person Cecil John Rhodes."

The university said the families of Enoch Sontonga, Charlotte Maxeke and Robert Sobukwe have recently agreed to the use of the names of these icons to rename some of the buildings on campus.

"These new names were approved by council following requests from the students who live at the respective residences."