Taking action

Change does not happen if you do not take action. We’re committed to tackling racial injustice and inequality across the University.

We own our past and its complex links to the transatlantic trafficking of enslaved African people.

After a long public consultation process, we have listened, digested, and committed to our Reparative Futures programme. This programme seeks to rectify the broader issues of racism and inequality that our racially minoritised  staff, students and wider communities face. We want to create permanent change for everyone impacted by racism today.

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What actions is the University taking? 

Long-lasting changes take time and dedication. And, it is vital that we take a long-term approach to make sure we see positive results long into the future. We want to see a permanent transformation for our racially minoritised communities through our Reparative Futures programme.

Building names

From our community engagement, we recognise that there are strong, but divided feelings about the legacy of our founders and their individual and complex links to the transatlantic trafficking of enslaved African people. As a place of learning and research we need to understand and better represent this history. This was echoed by the feedback that our community shared.

It is with this in mind that we are keeping building names and the symbols representing Wills and Fry in our logo. Keeping the names and these symbols reflect our position on better representing our history.

As a place of education and research, it is important to learn from, understand and better represent our history, even if it is uncomfortable. There would not be a university without the funding from Wills and Fry. And by keeping the names of our buildings, we aim to create an open dialogue about our past, and help better understand our place in history.

Goldney Hall has ties to the slave trade as the Goldney family funded several ships that took part in the triangular trade. But the Goldney family did not donate money to the University.

The University bought Goldney Hall and its gardens in the 1950s, when the family was breaking up the estate. So, it is solely through this purchase that the University is associated with the Goldney family.

In keeping with the decision to retain the names of the buildings that carry the Wills and the Fry names, we will also retain the name of Goldney Hall. This is to make sure that we represent our history most accurately.

There is one exception and this is Colston. The University received no funding from Colston, who died nearly 200 years before it was founded. However, his personal emblem, the dolphin, still forms part of our crest and our modern logo.

With Colston’s clear links to the slave trade and his symbolic ties to the University, we have removed the dolphin in our logo.

Learn more about the University’s complex connection to the slave trade.

While the consultation initially focussed on opinions around renaming our buildings, it soon became obvious that our communities needed more from us.

During the conversations, they expressed pain and disappointment with the lack of commitment from the University to address the racism and racial injustices they experience at the University.

And we understand that not everyone will agree with our decision. But we cannot forget our connection to our founders - even if that connection is uncomfortable. Because it is through education and awareness that we create positive change.

The improvement of the lived experience for our racially minoritised staff, students, and communities is about more than changing building names. Using the University’s past as a catalyst for conversation, we want to create a more inclusive institution.

We have launched our refreshed logo which sees the removal of Edward Colston’s dolphin emblem. The book of learning which was previously referenced in the shape of the lower left and right segments of the logo is now reinforced and strengthened by the addition of moving pages and a bookmark. This image reflects the institution’s core mission around education and learning.

The sun symbol of the Wills family and the horse emblem of the Frys will remain, reflecting the wider decision around acknowledging the institution’s history by explaining the historical significance of these figures in terms of their relationships with the University. There will be a phased update of the digital logo and we will otherwise make changes through the natural maintenance and development of our facilities.

Find out more about the history of our logo.

Current anti-racism activities

We are already taking steps to diversify our representation of racially minoritised communities across our staff and student body.

Read about what we are doing through our current anti-racism activities

Read the University's Annual Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) Report highlighting work to deliver equitable outcomes for our students and staff. 

The consultation process

The consultation began in 2022, stemming from the initial Legacies of Slavery report. The report uncovered the University’s complex but often indirect connections to the transatlantic trafficking of enslaved African people. It also set out that, “The path towards forms of reconciliation at a local level necessitates a multi-agency approach and cannot be achieved only through discussions at academic levels.”

To address the report’s findings, we began a public consultation, to uncover our communities’ opinions about the buildings named after our founders.

During the past year we engaged extensively with our communities through a survey and in-person meetings. We needed to listen, learn, and understand, to be able to create a more positive future.

The consultation was initially limited to exploring the views of the renaming. But the feedback we received unanimously told us that more needed to be done than a ‘superficial’ name change. Our communities needed more action from us.

Understanding that the initial engagement lacked a broader perspective and representation, we extended the consultation period to make sure that everyone was heard.

Read more about the public consultation process.

Consultation and Engagement Report

In June 2023 we engaged an independent consultant to write a report summing up our consultation and community engagement on the potential building renaming.

Read the Consultation and Engagement Report.

Response from the Vice-Chancellor

Read the Vice-Chancellor's response to the Consultation and Engagement Report

Your questions answered

Answers to your questions about building names, the consultation, and the background.

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