Update: Building Names and Naming Review Consultation
Earlier this year a consultation took place for University of Salford staff, students and alumni to share their views about the University’s approach to building names and spaces, and whether, specifically, it remains appropriate that two buildings on campus continue to bear the surnames of Sir Robert Peel and Sir Isaac Newton.
An invitation to complete an online survey was sent out to all University of Salford staff and students, all alumni with a current email address and a broad range of civic stakeholders with whom the University has regular contact. There were also two staff forums that allowed for open ended discussion.
Over 400 survey responses were received, with 82% of respondents feeling that the building names for Peel and Newton remain appropriate. 58% of respondents provided a range of different comments, largely focusing on the importance of celebrating diversity more in the future naming of buildings and spaces and the need to find an appropriate way of recognising the history surrounding the names Peel and Newton that could be installed in the buildings.
In the staff forums, there was a majority in favour of keeping the existing names but with the caveats outlined above on celebrating diversity in the future and finding a way to mark the history of names in the buildings, although this will focus more on Peel due to the scheduled demolition of Newton in the near future. There was recognition that social context does change over time and it is important that the context at the time of the naming is reflected in a way that educates and provides a broader narrative, and not just the biographical details of the person after whom the building is named. The full consultation report is available to download.
Using the outcomes of the survey and the broader work undertaken, the following recommendations went to University Council in July and the Vice-Chancellor’s Executive Team in August. These have now been agreed and a new Building Naming Policy has been approved.
That the names Peel and Newton are considered to remain appropriate for University buildings, given the significant contribution they made to society and that their links to slavery are limited but do need to be addressed as part of the context of society at the time the individuals were alive.
That we undertake work to celebrate diversity, address the historical context and mark the contribution the individual made by offering a number of paid commissions for students and alumni, working with the Art Collection team, to create works that can form part of the University Collection and be displayed in the Peel Building. This will be a meaningful, creative and engaging way of providing the installation in the Peel Building, and the works would become part of the University’s legacy in our Collection.
That changes to the Building Naming Policy be made to include a provision for future naming reviews based on the process followed on this occasion, so a precedent be set should future reviews be required.
Along with the changes in recommendation three, a further amendment to the policy to ensure that a robust mechanism is in place for ensuring strong candidates for future naming that reflect the diversity of the University community and result in a meaningful increase in spaces and buildings named after people from a diverse range of backgrounds.
A refreshed Equality Impact Assessment for the Building Naming Policy and Ethical Gift Acceptance Policy be approved.
That in order to ensure this work reflects the broader priorities of the University community and ensure that it is delivered as part of a joined-up programme of activity to address inclusion and diversity matters, the actions contained in these recommendations form part of the Race Equality Charter action plan.
Vice-Chancellor, Professor Helen Marshall, commented: "My thanks go to everyone who took the time to engage with this consultation. It is important to me that as a University community we are openly discussing and sharing our views on matters such as this, and that we take the time to ensure that all voices are heard and that we reflect on different views and act accordingly. The changes to the Building Naming Policy will provide the framework for our naming process going forward and will be put into action soon as we start to look at how our new Science, Engineering and Environment building, at the heart of our Peel Park campus, will be named. More details about this will be shared with stakeholders in the coming weeks."
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