In an effort to increase inclusivity and representation, the University of Cape Town (UCT) is planning on changing the names of various buildings, spaces and roads on the campus that are considered “dishonourable.”

UCT’s Vice-Chancellor, Professor Mamokgethi Phakeng, said in an official statement shared with colleagues and students that it is important to ensure that all staffs and students can see themselves, their cultures, values, heritages, and knowledge systems reflected on the campus.

“One of the ways of doing this is to consider how the names of buildings and spaces at UCT are reflective of the diversity of the campus community.”

The renowned university is aware that certain names have meaning and that decisions are made during certain periods of time to honour individuals, but acknowledges that it is an equally important to take note of names that are no longer honourable.

“However, it is also the role of a university to question the extent to which the institution continues to embrace and uphold names, symbols and imagery that uncritically honour those whom history has shown to be dishonourable.”

Renaming the various buildings on campus reflects what the university represents, such as its move to rename Jameson Hall to Sarah Baartman Hall in 2018.

Phakeng says that this particular instance of renaming a building “was a moment in which the university acknowledged the dishonourable history of Leander Starr Jameson while it simultaneously provided an opportunity to recognise the multifaceted struggles and resilience of South African women.”

The university is currently considering renaming the MR Drennan Anatomy Museum, as the name as it is honours “someone who was complicit in obtaining unethically-procured human remains.”

Buildings’ new names will not only reflect notable, honourable people, but also the university’s location, research, teaching, and social engagement.

The Naming of Buildings Committee (NoBC) will consider applications for the naming and renaming of structures on campus to ensure that UCT adheres to its strategic commitment as set out in the “2016-202 Strategic Planning Framework”. The plan aims to reinforce a new and inclusive identity.

Proposals can be submitted for the naming and renaming of UCT buildings to [email protected] before 5pm on April 19 2019. 

Proposals for the renaming of buildings with existing names must be accompanied by a motivation for why the name should be removed as well as a suggestion of a new name.

“You are invited to consider names of people but also names other than those of people, to offer, as suggested above, a wider reflection of UCTʼs identity as a university. These will be prioritised by the NoBC.”

Buildings which are currently unnamed, such as the New Lecture Theatre, can be renamed and suggested in the proposals submitted.

The following guidelines apply when renaming or naming a building at UCT: 

– If a name is linked to a specific faculty or residence, governance structures must be consulted with regards to the proposal.

– Once submitted, the NoBC will consider the following criteria:

1. Possible legal implications the name change for existing names of buildings, such as if the National Heritage Resources Act 25 of 1999 applies or are there existing donor restrictions

2. Historical and social significance of the existing name and the proposed name.

3. Circumstances that necessitate the name change.

4. The main reason proposed as the motivation of the name change.

– Names submitted could be names of people, or a description of the use or users of the building. This also includes words that describe a concept.

– Proposal for the names of living individuals will not be considered, with the exception of UCT Chancellor Graça Machel and major donor or benefactors.

– Proposals to name a building, residents, room, space, lecture theatre, road or sports facility in honour of a person, including a staff member who has died, will only be considered two years after their death.

– Based on the above criteria, the NoBC will solicit comments on the buildings that should be named or renamed.

– The NoBC will make a final recommendation to the Council after comments have been considered.

“Please note that the committee will likely receive many proposals and as such it might not be possible for them to reply to all emails received.”

Picture: University of Cape Town, Facebook

 

Article written by

Ishani Chetty

Ishani is a vegetarian who is passionate about animals, social issues, the environment and current affairs.