End of term takes: Megan Croll on the uni’s decision not to name the 17th college now, after a woman

It is being left unnamed in case of ‘a substantial donor’


At a recent meeting, Durham Uni's highest governing body decided to leave the newest college unnamed, to keep open the opportunity for a 'substantial donor' to set their name in stone.

Durham Students' Union President, Megan Croll, was the only member of the nineteen-strong council to vote against the decision. Here's her two cents why.

Obviously I’m disappointed with this decision.

I understand completely that Council have to act in the best interests of the University, and I’m very aware that a donation of the size that would allow someone naming rights to a College is a lot of money, but I’m not convinced that going against the wishes of the student body is worth it.

It’s safe to say that students aren’t the biggest fans of the estates masterplan expansion, and naming the college could give them back some ownership the project. This decision just alienates us further. The masterplan will only work out if the student body is on board.

I appreciate that Council and UEC have apologised for poor communication around this, but it wasn’t simply that they had “raised expectations for a consultative process”; we were explicitly told that we would be involved. To go back on that doesn’t really demonstrate a strong commitment to student consultation.

Council have acknowledged the strength of feeling from the student body, but is this enough? The petition gathered over 2800 signatures in just five days.

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Acknowledging that is one thing, but it seemingly wasn’t enough to make any real change, which raises the question I often ask of how many students need to speak out on an issue for us to be meaningfully heard?

I am confident that Council are a group of people who would heavily scrutinise any potential donors to make sure that if we accept a large donation, it is from someone we feel it is appropriate to accept it from.

However, I can’t help but worry when the University controversially accepted money for the Al Qasimi building to be named. Students’ Union Assembly passed a policy in October to make sure that we were involved in this process, and to name the college after a woman with connections to the North East.

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Therefore I will continue to push for that. I would encourage students, staff, and alumni to keep signing and sharing the petition. Following Council’s decision, I hope to engage University Senate in discussion.

Senate is a body comprised of each of the heads of all the colleges, departments and faculties, and student reps; Senate is a community, and this kind of decision should be one with the entire Durham community should be consulted on.

I hope that their support will mean that Council will reconsider.