University Council votes to leave 17th college unnamed to attract financial donations

By Clara Gaspar

The Durham University Council announced yesterday that the 17th Durham college, which is currently in its construction process, will remain unnamed in a bid to attract large financial donations.

Only one of the 19 members of the Council, Megan Croll, President of the Durham Students’ Union, voted to oppose the decision.

University Secretary, Jennifer Sewel announced the decision, reasoning that due to the need for a “successful fundraising campaign”, the University “should not proceed with a formal naming process for the 17th College to leave the option open for a substantial donor to have naming opportunities.”

“The rationale for pausing the formal naming of the 17th College was not well communicated to staff and students”

This announcement follows a campaign that urged the University to reconsider naming the 17th college after a financial donor. As previously reported by Palatinate, the campaign was supported by Megan Croll, President-Elect George Walker, all JCR Presidents (or equivalent) and a number of other senior student representatives.

The campaign was initiated after a petition rejecting the University’s plans to name the new college after a donor was signed by over 2,840 Durham students. This petition suggests that the newly built college should be named in honour of a “notable Durham woman” instead of “someone who is willing to cough up enough cash”.

Despite this, the Durham University Council decided continue with their original plans, saying that “Council has today carefully reconsidered its decision in the light of the protests from some students and staff but has confirmed that its decision remains appropriate”.

They did however issue an apology, recognising that “the rationale for pausing the formal naming of the 17th College was not well communicated to staff and students, for which Council and UEC apologise. The strength of student feeling about this is recognised.

“To avoid this situation occurring again, Council has asked the Executive to identify within the Estates Strategy, the buildings which will need naming in order that these might be prioritised and potential possibilities for naming rights identified in advance.”

On the University’s recent decision, Students’ Union President Megan Croll told The Tab Durham: “They are an amazing group of people and they are trying to act in the best interests of the university but I’m not sure they’ve got it right here.”

Photograph by Jean-Etienne Minh-Duy Poirrier via Flickr and Creative Commons

One Response

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  1. ds
    Mar 14, 2018 - 04:05 PM

    “The rationale for pausing the formal naming of the 17th College was not well communicated to staff and students”

    No, the rationale for delay was communicated abundantly clearly. The method of communication is not the issue. The reason for it is.

    Of course, one possible strategy is to put the possible candidates for naming up for election, and for the student body to choose a winner. Then just call the college by that name whenever you refer to it, whatever the outcome of the donation.

    It sort of worked in Newcastle, where no one called the football ground the Sports Direct Arena. It remained as St James’s Park to absolutely everyone except the owner.

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