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By Rob Shimshock
Rhodes Scholarship officials have refused to allow conservative members of the program to host a forum on its official site.
The Rhodes Trust in charge of the scholarship has denied a group of scholars that promotes free speech and opposes political correctness and social justice, the Rhodes Scholars for Intellectual Diversity (RSID), a place on its website, reports The Wall Street Journal. The trust says the group is being denied a spot because its views aren’t solely coming from current Rhodes scholars, although the site is hosting a group including former scholars with different political views.
This decision comes amid attacks by activists against the scholarship’s namesake, mining mogul and businessman Cecil Rhodes, because he was a slave trader, as reported by The Spectator. RSID wants to preserve the namesake of the scholarship and confront what it views as liberal bias on the selection panel for future scholars, while another group that is being given a spot on the site is on the side opposing the namesake.
The Rhodes Trust says that current Rhodes scholars do not share the same beliefs as those in the RSID group.
“[RSID] is at best a smokescreen and at worst an outright lie,” said a Rhodes alumnus, according to a listserv accessed by The Wall Street Journal. Others called conservative views on feminism, immigration, and Islam “dangerous,” “vaguely coherent rants” containing “vitriol” and “tripe.”
“It’s like most of academia, there is this leftward drift which reinforces itself over time,” said Dan Lubrich, a 2002 Rhodes scholar and physicist who works at an Arizona aerospace organization as a chief technology officer, to The Wall Street Journal. “If something isn’t done to change things, you are going to lose an entire point of view.”
Lubrich also asserted that conservative alumni are underrepresented on panels that choose Rhodes scholars.
The University of Cape Town removed its statue of Cecil Rhodes as a result of the “Rhodes Must Fall” initiative in 2015. But a similar push to take down Oxford’s Rhodes statue failed last year.
“The statue should come down,” said Robert Fisher, a Rhodes scholar studying at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. “We know who Cecil Rhodes was, we know the atrocities he committed against black southern Africans, we know the type of ideology he held; it makes no sense to honor someone with a statue if we know these are the sorts of ideas he adhered to.”