University of Edinburgh renames David Hume Tower over ‘racist’ views

The University of Edinburgh has renamed its David Hume Tower in response to the Scottish Enlightenment philosopher’s views on “matters of race”.

A petition launched over the summer by students cited his links to the slave trade and called for the building to be renamed as Julius Nyerere, the first President of independent Tanzania.

The online campaign claimed David Hume “wrote racist epithets” and attracted more than 1,700 signatures.

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However, the university has now announced that the building will be henceforth known as 40 George Square, to be used as a student study space in the academic year currently underway.

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‘David Hume Tower’ will now be known as 40 George Square

In an update posted by the Equality and Diversity Committee and its Race Equality and Anti-Racist Sub-committee, the university announced the change as a move to increase their efforts “energised” by the Black Lives Matter movement.

The University has said the decision was taken because of “sensitivities” around asking students to use a building named after an 18th century philosopher whose comments “rightly cause distress today.”


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The statement read: “It is important that campuses, curricula and communities reflect both the university’s contemporary and historical diversity and engage with its institutional legacy across the world.

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“For this reason the university has taken the decision to rename – initially temporarily until a full review is completed – one of the buildings in the central area campus.”

It added: “The interim decision has been taken because of the sensitivities around asking students to use a building named after the 18th century philosopher whose comments on matters of race, though not uncommon at the time, rightly cause distress today.”

The university said the decision was taken ahead of a “more detailed review of the university’s links to the past” and work is “considering many other issues beyond the naming of buildings”.

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