78% of students vote to retain Armstrong Building’s name

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78% of current Newcastle students want to retain the current name of the Armstrong Building but add extra information on the industrialist’s legacy, a vote by the Students’ Union has revealed.

Of 2380 votes cast, only 18% voted to rename the building. The remaining 4% voted to abstain.

The advisory poll was created by NUSU President Katie Smyth and Welfare & Equality Officer Sara Elkhawad in response to the Black Lives Matter movement. The Union provided information on William Armstrong’s legacy in the armament industry so that students could make an informed choice. A statue of the 19th century industrialist outside the Great North Museum: Hancock temporarily featured on a Topple the Racists map of UK memorials that “celebrate slavery and racism”, but was later removed, as was Grey’s Monument.

After the poll closed at 5pm on Monday, this verdict was presented to Vice-Chancellor Professor Chris Day and Deputy Vice-Chancellor Professor Julie Sanders, who said:

“Please thank all students who took part in this process for engaging. This outcome will be fed into the work and considerations of a working group.”

The vote, however, was not without its flaws. The initial poll had to be restarted after it was discovered that people were able to vote twice, and votes from the first three days had to be discarded. Furthermore, alumni have taken to social media and email to share their disappointment at not being eligible to vote in the poll.

Last modified: 25th June 2020

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