University to re-display removed Theresa May portrait

The portrait of Theresa May was removed from the walls of the University’s School of Geography and the Environment last night following student pressure


A portrait of Prime Minister Theresa May has been removed from the walls of the University’s School of Geography and the Environment.

The portrait was put up last week as part of a celebration of the department’s female alumnae.

However, after pressure from students, the portrait was taken down last night.

The University has said that the portrait was taken down because it “was being obscured by posters bearing various messages.” According to the statement, the portrait “will be re-displayed so it can be seen as intended.”

A Twitter account called ‘NotAllGeographers’ had been set up to protest the portrait.

May, who graduated with a second-class degree from St Hugh’s in 1977, was originally one of twelve alumnae to feature prominently as part of the new display, which aimed to “aim to inspire the next generation of women geographers to aim high in their future careers.

The portraits were nominated by current and former members of the department.

The School’s Equality and Diversity Officer, Claire Hann, who came up with the idea for the display, said: “The aim is to show that the achievements of the few selected women represent and are linked with the achievements of a much wider group of women geographers.

“We’re keen to celebrate the successes of our women students and staff as much as those of men. It’s been great to reconnect with many of our past students through this project, and we hope it will inspire our current students as they pass by the display each day.”

But ‘NotAllGeographers’ took issue with May’s inclusion.

The group, whose name builds upon a hashtag used during the recent UCU strikes distancing current students from the vice chancellors who also studied geography, told Cherwell“We are rightly proud of…the celebration of SoGE alumnae.

“However, there was no consultation (at least with students) about the placing of Theresa May as one of the selected twelve larger portraits to celebrate women and Oxford geography (or the selection of photos for the wall).

“Clearly at a time when there are issues with the Windrush scandal and the handling of Brexit [she is] a contentious figure in a department with many EU citizens and decolonial scholars.

“The main, and most basic, issue comes with the celebration of a sitting Prime Minister. Should a department align itself with the power of the day, when there are those who actively challenge it?

“It is unprecedented to celebrate state power in such a way (regardless of one’s political affiliation).

“For many geographers, the famous Doreen Massey being placed below her is also another kick in the teeth.”

The group had planned to circulate a petition demanding the portrait’s removal.

‘NotAllGeographers’ also stuck up card around the portrait, and invited students to share their thoughts.

One student wrote: “School of Geography and (Hostile????) Environment” [sic], while another message said: “Let in every refugee, throw the Tories in the sea.”

In response, a counter-campaign took off, under the moniker #PutThePortraitBack.

The School of Geography and Environment and Theresa May have been contacted for comment.


  1. Just heard about this and as an alumni of the school I find it really disappointing and embarrassing — whose poor judgment thought that this should be hung anywhere inside a department that, when I was there, was renowned for being innovative and inclusive? Hanging the portrait of the incumbent PM, who so far has demonstrated only incompetence in office and hostility in her flawed and ineffective immigration policies sends the wrong messages and is extremely partisan — and I’m fairly centrist in my political views and have voted Conservative in the past!

    • The portrait was hung in the in the School because Theresa May was a graduate of the School who achieved the highest office in the land. The hanging of the portrait is not a comment on her policies, and your view of her policies is completely irrelevant.

    • As an alumnus of the School, I find it embarrassing that you are also an alumnus — how did my School produce somebody whose inability to argue, write coherently, or even follow basic rules of grammar make you look like a semi-educated muppet. Please, for the sake of the rest of us, keep quiet about where you graduated from.

      • Get a grip Jane, it’s an internet comment not an essay. As for the portrait I do not really mind it, but I am also a Canadian Tab and can appreciate perhaps it’s not exactly well judged / and sympathetic hanging up the current PM is a bit improper & asking for trouble regardless. These comments are hilarious though.

  2. Gerry I think if your mother was an alumni of the department then she would be sad to have her portrait used in such a political way. The University should not be so stupid as to wade into current political affairs. Very silly.

  3. The academics who facilitated this removal bolster their considerable credentials as being aggressively intolerant of freedom of speech and expression, lest it my dare to counter their bigoted narrative.
    Their foolish students will themselves become the bigots of tomorrow and repeat the process.
    The fact that behaviour exists within what is allegedly one of the finest educational institutions in the world is irony beyond parody.

  4. A wonderful display of the intolerance and censorship of the left leaning University jelly-spined morons.

  5. If these students cannot understand that it is a fine thing when one of their predecessors becomes Prime Minister, then they are so stupid that they should not be at Oxford.

  6. Given that the main student involved in setting up the social media account behind this has been reported to the university twice before for racist remarks about Asians, the irony here is overwhelming.

  7. As an alumnus I am disappointed in the University. Apparently women can laudably aspire to be an adviser to the Chavez regime but not UK PM.

  8. The left wing bias in many of our Universities is getting beyond a joke. Now even a picture of the democratically elected female PM is too offensive for the little snowflakes. About tine the whole University sector was overhauled to ensure impartial education rather than left wing indoctrination.

  9. I read the academics letter and initially thought that there may be a good point about to made about not having a picture of the ‘dear leader’ on the wall, especially if the blurb underneath touched contemporary issues. Then I see a comparison to someone Doreen Massey who, from the context, I assumed to be someone akin to Albert Schweitzer in worth, achievement and moral spotlessness. So I look her up and see she is credited as coming up with some academic idea called “power geometry” which had been adopted wholesale by the Venezuelan Chavez regime.

    Well I think we all know how that turned out?

    I guess because she has remained in academia and never had to trouble herself with being elected this has spared her from some of the scrutiny that Mrs May has come under, but to imply Massey has some moral superiority over May preventing her”sit[ing] easily” with here is quite clearly laughable.

    If ever there was case of no ‘Skin in the Game’ this is it.

    Keep it up Oxford. 😉

  10. And yet the portrait of Doreen Massey — a racist, vicious bigot who leant support to a regime that murdered and “disappeared” many of its citizens — remains.

  11. This isn’t speaking truth to power nor is it an attempt to hide behind some kind of half-baked righteous indignation. It’s a childish rant and you all should know better. Mrs May has really done quite well – from a geography undergraduate to prime minister.

  12. Let’s be honest here, 90% of the comments here are as hysterical as anything happening around the picture in the department. They all look like alt-right snowflake bots! The simple fact is that the University/Dept should never have put up a picture of an present politician anyway, it’s just open to all sorts of problems… whoever did it is clearly a May fanboy trying to cheekily get one over, and it shouldn’t have happened – just like there shouldn’t be a picture of the PM if they were Labour or whatever else.


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