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Purposeful of Performative? On UCL, eugenics, and its apology

By Ngozi

On January 7th, 2021, University of College London issued a public apology for its history and legacy of eugenics. The outgoing President and Provost Michael Arthur issued an apology which stated that the eugenics sits in opposition to the founding principles of UCL. However, many people wonder if higher institutions have the capacity to thoroughly investigate their historical legacies while still being held together by bricks of white supremacy and mortar of elitism. An apology can not undo a long history of denigration. The first step in ameliorating a legacy of intellectual violence is calling out it for what it is - violent. UCL’s actions are under close scrutiny as they fumigate for colonial pests. There are four direct steps which cover addressing inequalities, increasing access, implementing curriculum and engaging in learning. The Response Group of UCL representatives includes academic staff, equality networks and the Students’ Union who have provided recommendations that UCL is working to implement. Thus far, the financial investment into BME Awarding Gap project and the creation of the Sarah Parker Remond Centre are great examples of purposive action and restitution. Apologies without action are symbolic. Let us leave symbolism to the artists. Racism is loud, violent and unapologetic.Thus, any decolonial counter must be equally as charged. We hope that recognising the way UCL is complicit in promoting dangerous ideology is purposeful not performative.

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