In Brief

Why Theresa May’s picture was removed from her university

Students protest over PM’s inclusion in geography department ‘wall of women’ exhibition

A portrait of Prime Minister Theresa May has been removed from her alma mater following protests from students.

The photograph of May - who achieved a second class degree in geography at St Hugh’s College, Oxford - “was put up as part of a display about high-achieving alumnae” in the university’s geography department, says Sky News.

But the image was quickly plastered with critical messages about issues including the Windrush scandal and the “hostile environment for immigrants”. 

According to the BBC, one note read, “School of geography and hostile environment?” A picture of May and Donald Trump captioned “complicit relationship” was also stuck up beside the portrait.  

The PM’s image was finally removed after students launched a Twitter campaign called “Not All Geographers”,  reports Oxford University newspaper Cherwell.

But that decision was criticised by Universities Minister Sam Gyimah, who tweeted that it was “utterly ridiculous” that “even portraits are being no-platformed”.

The university faculty “should get a grip” and “put the portrait back in a more prominent place”, the minister said.

A university spokesperson said the portrait was taken down to avoid more protests but that it will be “re-displayed so it can be seen as intended”.

The Not All Geographers group, which garnered support from 21 of the academic staff, lamented what it described as an assault on internal democracy.

The group told Cherwell: “The main, and most basic, issue comes with the celebration of a sitting prime minister. Should a department align itself with the power of the day, when there are those who actively challenge it?

“It is unprecedented to celebrate state power in such a way (regardless of one’s political affiliation). For many geographers, the famous Doreen Massey being placed below her is also another kick in the teeth.”

A spokesperson for May said the PM recognised the “importance of celebrating women in public life” and of “public debate”, The Sun reports.

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