Change the name of KCL’s Guy’s Campus

Change the name of KCL’s Guy’s Campus

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Rory Darling
Rory Darling signed this petition

Change the name of King’s College London’s campus site named ‘Guy’s Campus’ situated in London Bridge because of how it is named after Thomas Guy, a man who made his fortune (£42,000 in 1720, roughly a massive £400 million today) through his large shares in the South Sea Company. This was a company which would barter slaves to the Spanish colonies in harrowing conditions. Yet he is hailed by history as a philanthropist with one of the most prestigious institutions in the world naming a site after him, disregarding his dark involvement with the systemic  dehumanisation of black people.

King’s College London on their website itself do not acknowledge this at all. On their website here: https://www.kcl.ac.uk/aboutkings/principal/dean/chaplaincy/prayeratkings/guys/chapelofthomasguy under the section ‘Who was Thomas Guy?’, he is described as a man of ‘extraordinary generosity’ - with his prominence in the South Sea Company completely omitted. This portrays a totally false narrative by hailing an ‘eccentric...philanthropist’ as a worthy figure to admire. Additionally, there is a statue of Thomas Guy in the campus and we would appeal for the removal of this. 

We are a couple of first-year undergraduates at King’s studying on Guy’s Campus. We’ve loved spending our first year not only surrounded by international academic excellence, but also making friends on campus with people from all different nationalities, ethnicities, backgrounds and identities. Thus, this is what inspired our petition.

The Black Lives Matter movement has meant a huge amount to all of us. We’ve seen protests across the country demanding for justice with crowds in their thousands. There is such pain and injustice behind the horrific crimes committed against Black people, and one of the focal points of this is the disgusting manner in which they were enslaved for centuries. On Sunday 7th June 2020, a statue of Edward Colston was torn down in Bristol because of his influence in transporting 80,000 Africans to the Americas for the purpose of enslavement by anti-racism protesters. In response to this, Sadiq Khan has set up a commission to reassess all of London’s landmarks to ensure they reflect cultural diversity. Despite London being one of the most multi-cultural cities in the world, unfortunately many plaques, street names and indeed institution names glorify and remember historical figures who perpetuated the slave trade. We want this to be changed.

We would urge the council of KCL to reassess the name of this site in order to reflect their commitment to creating an ‘inclusive environment that promotes equality’ as stated in their Equality and Diversity policy, as we strongly feel the naming of this site runs incredibly counter to the said commitment.