In September 2020, The University of Edinburgh announced it would temporarily rename the University’s David Hume Tower, until a full review is completed. According to the University’s official statement on the matter, the decision was 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”.
Following widespread dissatisfaction by this decision among our membership, the President of the Edinburgh University Club of London, Dr Stuart Blackie, wrote a letter on behalf of the Club to express a strong objection. As Edinburgh graduates we take pride in the fact that one of the greatest thinkers ever to have lived is a fellow alumnus and do not agree that his achievements should be eclipsed by his inability to recognise 21st century moral views in the 18th century.
The Principal and Vice-Chancellor of The University of Edinburgh, Professor Peter Mathieson, responded to the letter. With his permission, his response is published in full here: