King’s College London will be putting up portraits of women and ethnic minorities to replace those of bearded white scholars.

The Decision

Due to pressure from its students, King’s College London, one of the top universities in the UK, will be replacing some of their portraits of bearded white scholars with those of women and ethnic minorities.

The portraits that will be replaced are currently hung in the university’s main entrance and are of former staff and faculty who worked at the institution. The plans will be implemented by the “Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience.”

This came after students expressed a growing concern that the university’s current teaching “is too intimidating” for women and ethnic minorities. The decision was made to symbolise the university’s general recognition of people of all races, genders and ethnicities.

Comments On the Decision

Patrick Leman, the education dean at the university, said that this plan is being backed by the student body, which he says was “exceptionally good” in encouraging curriculum diversification.

“We’re trying to reflect the diversity in terms of students we have, but also trying to be more inter-cultural, more international in terms of how we develop the science,” he said.

“A great deal of medical, psychological research has been of white, male, North American or European students…so increasingly we try and broaden it to include more recent research from Asia, Africa, and from other parts of the world.

“[We are] making sure that the space in which students learn… doesn’t just have the busts of the bearded 1920s men, but also has pictures of people from different ethnic groups, different cultures. It’s not that we’re throwing anything into the bin.” 

Sir Frederick Mott’s direct descendant, Keith Mott, Keith Mott, said he wasn’t offended by this decision, but would still “caution against universities seeking to erase controversial parts of their history.”

“They will not be forgotten because their portrait is not there,” he added. “Where I do take issue is where places were founded on the slave trade, for example, and attempts are made to eradicate that history. I’m a great believer that if you don’t study your history you are bound to repeat it.”

Sam Barrett, the University’s Conservative Association president, however, described the decision as “political correctness gone mad.” He also accused King’s to be “caving” to student demands.

“It’s a de-colonisation of the curriculum. Any sort of view that some students disagree with – if you shout loudly enough the university will react to it,” he added.

“Some [students] clearly have a problem with being taught by a white man – that’s the reality of it. If that person who knows their subject is white, why should that matter?”

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