Petition launched to changed the name of the Guy’s campus at King’s College London
Activists have launched a petition on change.org to change the name of King’s College London (KCL) Guy’s campus in London Bridge. The campus, named after Thomas Guy, is home to the Faculty of Life Sciences and Medicine and the Dental Institute and is next to Guy’s Hospital.
Thomas Guy was a benefactor of the hospital, which was established in 1726, and made his fortune of nearly £400 million in today’s money through his shares in the South Sea Company, which bartered slaves to the Spanish colonies.
The petition seeks to rename the campus as they feel that “one of the most prestigious institutions in the world” are “disregarding his dark involvement with the systemic dehumanisation of black people.”
The KCL website does not acknowledge his role within the South Sea Company and omits his connection to slavery, painting him instead as a philanthropist.
The petition has gained nearly 8,000 signatures as of Thursday 11 June, and was started by first-year undergraduates studying on Guy’s campus. It references the take-down of Edward Colston’s statue in Bristol on Sunday 7 June and asks to change the glorification of historical figures who perpetuated the slave trade.
There are currently two statues of Guy at the hospital. As part of London Mayor Sadiq Khan’s review of statues and street names linked to slavery, those statues are both under review.
The petition also comes after the University of Liverpool announced that they would change the name of a student accommodation named after former Prime Minister William Gladstone, whose father was heavily involved in the slave trade.
We spoke to several King’s College London students about this. Amika, a mixed-race student said, “I think it’s a great idea but realistically I don’t think it’ll ever actually happen because it’s also tied to Guys Hospital. What i do think is important is that we acknowledge his ties to slavery and separate the university from the person and include it in brochures.”
Andrea Thomas, a humanities student, thought that the petition and renaming of the campus is important “because it doesn’t fit in with what KCL claims to be: an inclusive and diverse university.”
She mentioned that other King’s campuses “are named after their respective locations” like the Strand campus, where she is based.
“I wonder why Guy’s campus can’t just be called London Bridge campus? Why must the university feel the need to pay respect to the founder, when this is outdated and frankly unnecessary?” She asked. “In today’s climate, I feel that KCL owes it to the students [to rename the campus],” Alice concluded.
A spokesperson for King’s College London said, “The Guy’s campus is based next to Guy’s Hospital, and named after the hospital. We’ve spoken to the team at the hospital, and there are currently no plans to rename the hospital.”
If readers want to sign the petition, it can be found here.