UoL agrees to rename Gladstone Halls following petition

The petition got over 1,000 signatures in 24 hours

UoL has agreed to change Greenbank’s Gladstone Halls name after a student-led petition requested the change in support of the Black Lives Matter movement.

Joe Jones, a third-year business economics student at UoL, posted a Google document to the Smithdown Ticket Exchange Facebook group to raise awareness of his petition and educate students on the racist history behind William Gladstone.

Joe starts his post by telling people why the building name Gladstone should be removed from Greenbank Halls: “Gladstone was the son of one of the biggest slave owners in history.”

Joe points out that in 2018, Liverpool’s Guild of Students let students vote whether to rename Gladstone Halls or not. The outcome was that the building would keep its name, but a plaque would be installed to teach people who Gladstone is and why the building is named after him. The university still has not done this.

“The University should have NEVER put it to a vote. That clearly shows they don’t see it as a problem, if they did they’d just remove it,” he said after.

Joe commented on why the outcome of the 2018 vote disappointed many students: “Our uni has a clear lack of diversity anyway, so the people voting on the matter would’ve been majority white. I bet most people didn’t even know the Gladstone name or family.”

The Google document, which went live at 17:00 on the 8th June, has already received over 1,000 signatures.

The letter begins by suggesting that Janet Beer is also feeling moved by recent global events: “I am sure that you, like so many, share in the anger and upset that is being felt across the country and indeed the world.

“Every Black life lost to racism is a tragedy, however it is a mistake to regard this movement as simply reactionary to one incident of police brutality.”

The open letter stresses that is is important to “ensure that we do all in our power to right the many wrongs that our history has done unto black people.”

Joe then begins to lay out the racial issues in Liverpool’s history.

“Liverpool, as a city, is entrenched in the history of black oppression.

“From 1771 right up until 1869 the Pier head acted as a home to the slave ships arriving from the West Indies.”

The letter begins to talk about Gladstone Halls: “Whilst I have no doubt that you will be familiar with the name behind this halls of residence, it is important we mention it.”

Joe explains that Gladstone “was a prominent Liberal politician and in a career of over 60 years he spent 12 years as prime minister of the United Kingdom.

“Notably, William Gladstone’s earliest Parliamentary speeches regarded the matter of slavery (…) he used his position to defend the interest of those who, like his father, owned West Indian slave-ran plantations.”

Joe suggests that renaming Gladstone Hall would show that Liverpool supports the Black Lives Matter movement.

“Whilst we cannot possibly expect that the entire architecture of Liverpool is torn down and replaces, renaming Gladstone Hall and removing the reminder of William Gladstone is one small and simple act that the University can enact to show solidarity in the rejection of Black oppression.

“We cannot facilitate normalising people like William Gladstone by naming our campus after them.”

Joe finishes the letter with: “Now is the time to qualify your words with some real action.”

At the bottom of the document there is a form to fill in your name and student ID or city if you do not attend UoL.

The Tab spoke to Joe about his motivations for contacting Dame Janet Beer and creating this petition to raise awareness for the racism behind Gladstone Hall.

“I wrote it because I’m just tired of the lack of acknowledgement of our (white people’s) history” Joe told The Tab. “Nothing will move forward unless we educate people about these people.

“I’ve noticed a lot of people didn’t even know who Gladstone is, which is just normalising his name and legacy.

“I think it’s necessary because in 2017 it was rebuilt, if they had an ounce of racial understanding they wouldn’t have kept the name. Removing the name will send a clear statement by the uni that they support Black Lives Matter.”

Joe finished his statement with a message everyone should be understanding right now:

“But ultimately, racism is OUR (white people’s) problem to solve and the onus shouldn’t be on black people to educate us.”

Click here to see Joe’s petition to get Gladstone’s name removed from Greenbank Halls.

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