The University has come under fire this week after a member of staff claimed it failed to give an academic known as the “godfather of multiculturalism” a proper tribute.
According to Shakina Chinedu – an equality and diversity officer – the university did not adequately recognise Stuart Hall, who died earlier this year, in a staff newsletter.
According to The Voice, Chinedu said: “We have a daily newsletter that goes out to all the staff in Oxford. I asked the team to mention Stuart Hall’s passing as he was an alumni of the University and they refused”.
A university spokesperson hit back, claiming: “There is no daily newsletter that goes out to all staff. There is simply a brief digest for the record of media coverage received by the University.”
“Given the vast amount of attention Oxford receives worldwide this cannot hope to be comprehensive and, in order to make it manageable, some types of coverage such as obituaries of alumni are not included, however notable the individual.”
Hall passed away in February this year and was previously an Oxford Masters student in English. The spokesperson went on to say the university has acknowledged his passing: “In the week of his death, our centre for interdisciplinary research in the humanities, TORCH, held a seminar paying tribute to his life and influence on academic, political and cultural thought. The Rhodes Trust, from whom Professor Hall won a Scholarship to study at Oxford, carried an obituary on its website, as did the University’s online magazine for its alumni, Oxford Today.
“Merton College, where the Professor studied, also ran a tribute. The University website includes Professor Hall among the most eminent former students of the 20th and 21st century.”
However, the issue has raised concern within students in the university. Hope Levy-Shepherd, current Co-Chair for the OUSU Campaign for Racial Awareness and Equality and previous ACS President, said: “I am yet to see a single portrait of a black scholar on any college wall in my two years here, which emphasises to me that we are not simply dealing with the problem of an internal staff mailing list – this is a much wider reality that the university perpetuates openly to its staff and students every day’.
“Not only is this specific decision in the instance of Professor Stuart Hall symptomatic of a greater issue that can often prove frustrating for BME students here at Oxford, but it reinforces an inexcusable contradiction in the way that the university brands itself as a world class institution.
“Oxford University prides and distinguishes itself on its ability to bring together some of the greatest minds from across the globe: yet, it seems as though, despite having student representation from across the majority of the countries in the world, the university only makes the effort to celebrate the achievements of the minority.”