The president of Magdalen College in Oxford has vigorously defended the right of her graduate students to remove a photo of the Queen from their common room after Education Secretary Gavin Williamson called the move “absurd”.
Members of the college’s Middle Common Room (MCR), reserved for postgraduate graduate students, voted to remove the printing, with the meeting minutes noting that “for some students, the representations of the monarch and of the British monarchy represent recent colonial history. ”.
Williamson tweeted: “Oxford University students removing a picture of the Queen is just nonsense. She is the Head of State and a symbol of the best in the UK. During her long reign she worked tirelessly to promote the British values of tolerance, inclusiveness and respect around the world.
But Dinah Rose, the president of Magdalen College, responded quickly: “Here are some facts about Magdalen College and HM The Queen. The middle common room is an organization of graduate students. They do not represent the College. A few years ago, around 2013, they bought a print of a picture of the Queen to decorate their common room.
“They recently voted to withdraw it. These two decisions are theirs and not those of the College. Madeleine strongly supports freedom of expression and political debate, as well as the right to autonomy of the RCM. Maybe they will vote to put it back, maybe they won’t. During this time, the photo will be stored securely.
Rose added, “Being a student is more than studying. It’s about exploring and debating ideas. Sometimes it is about provoking the older generation. Looks like it’s not that hard to do nowadays.
Williamson’s intervention comes as the government presses universities to defend access to campuses for controversial speakers. Last month, he proposed new free speech legislation that would place student unions under the watchful eye of the higher education regulator, the Students’ Office, and appoint a “free speech champion” to its board of directors.
The bill would allow academics, students or guest lecturers to seek compensation in court if they suffer losses as a result of a university’s policies.
Matthew Katzman, chairman of Magdalen’s MCR, told the Daily Telegraph: “He’s been pulled. It was decided to leave the common room neutral. That was what it was about. The college will have a lot of performances of various things, but the common room is meant to be a space where everyone feels welcome. “