Brown U. Students Demand Removal of ‘White Supremacist’ Roman Statues

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Josh Edelson/AP

Students at Brown University have started a campaign that calls for the removal of campus statues of Roman emperors Caesar Augustus and Marcus Aurelius over concerns that they represent “white supremacy.”

According to a report by Campus Reform, a group of student activists at Brown University has launched a campaign to remove two statues of Roman emperors from campus.

A student group called Decolonization at Brown has argued recently that campus statues of Caesar Augustus and Marcus Aurelius should be removed from campus over their alleged promotion of domination and bigotry.

“It is not that difficult to see how a statue of (Caesar Augustus) would serve as an icon of colonial and imperial domination,” one member of the student group said. “They function not as monuments to ancient Rome, but to a set of values and political stances which existed when they were commissioned on Brown’s campus.”

In a Facebook post, the student group argued that the statues promote “colonialism and white supremacy.” They also link to a blog post that called on the university to remove the statues.

“These descriptions of the statues’ arrival leave no room for misinterpretation: the education for students at Brown—which, then, was almost exclusively white elite men—was designed to mold them according to the classical ideal of whiteness,” the blog post reads. “This ideal is the origin of the monuments, not an interpretation or argument against them.”

A spokesperson for the university said that administrators have not received an official proposal from the student activists that have called for a removal of the statues. The spokesperson said that they would consider the proposal to remove the statue in accordance with their standard procedures.

“The University has received no proposal regarding the removal of statues on campus,” the spokesperson said in a short statement. “If we do receive a proposal, we’d work through our established structures for considering public art on the Brown campus. Those would likely include our public art working group, which has representation from faculty, staff and students, as well as our governing board’s subcommittee on public art.”

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