Petition calls for LUSU to rename The Sugarhouse

The name is connected to the city’s history of the slave trade

Students from Lancaster University have started a petition aimed at Lancaster University Students’ Union to rename the Student Union nightclub, The Sugarhouse. This is due to the name’s connections to Lancaster’s involvement in the transatlantic slave trade.

The nightclub is located on Sugarhouse Alley and the site of a 17th century sugarhouse and boiling-house. This was used to process sugar and other produce grown and harvested on slave plantations in the West Indies. At the time, Lancaster was the fourth largest slave trading port in Britain and many other aspects of the city remained attached to this legacy.

The petition references a public consultation process by the owners of Lancaster pub The Robert Gillow, conducted in response to the Black Lives Matter protests in 2020. Robert Gillow was a Lancaster merchant with links to the transatlantic slave trade.

The petitions demands were as follows: “Launch, fund and promote an annual educational programme (perhaps specifically during Freshers’ Week) which discuss Lancaster’s history and also bring up the Sugarhouse. This will ensure that the history of the Sugarhouse is not forgotten but, instead, remembered in the appropriate way.

“Allow students to put in name suggestions which will be reviewed by the Union’s staff alongside the help of volunteers, such as academics, who can help formulate a shortlist to subsequently be put forward to the student body. This will ensure that all names within the list are appropriate but also that the student body will have the final say.

“Make the renaming of the Sugarhouse an official part of SU policy so that all future FTOs are also held accountable in regards to this matter, until the renaming and rebranding takes place. We expect this process to take place as soon as the financial situation of the SU allows.”

It also states: “We believe that the placement of plaques, for example, is not an adequate alternative to renaming the Sugarhouse, as that could very easily become a passive and performative gesture which will very quickly blend into its surroundings and be subsumed into the everyday.”

The petition requires the support of two per cent of the student body to be put to a student referendum. This two percent is roughly 320 signatures.

The petition can be found here.

Related articles:

‘Shameful and disgusting’: BAME Students’ Officer in favour of renaming The Sugarhouse 

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