College Council decides to remove R.A. Fisher Window from Hall

  • 26 June 2020

The College Council after serious and considered discussion decided on Wednesday 24 June to take down the R.A. Fisher window, subject to Listed Building consent. The Council was aided in its decision by the thoughtful papers and arguments presented to it by fellows, students and other members of the wider Gonville & Caius College community.

The Window representing Fisher’s 7x7 Latin Square was mounted in 1989 along with a series of windows in Hall to commemorate remarkable scientific discoveries made by members of the College. Sir Ronald Fisher was a student, Fellow and President of Caius. His contribution to science, through his work on statistics and genetics, was fundamental to fields as wide ranging as clinical trials in medicine through to increased production in agriculture. However, while Fisher was at Cambridge he became the founding chairman of the University of Cambridge Eugenics Society. The relationship of Fisher's interest in eugenics and his scientific research remains a matter of scholarly debate. He was a prominent proponent of eugenics, both in his scientific work and in his public pronouncements throughout his career.

The College is now aware of the views and actions of R.A. Fisher in a way that was not fully appreciated in 1989. The College Council was clear that it should no longer honour Fisher the man with a window, which causes such broad offence. The College will now work to discuss and debate what will happen to the Fisher Window once it is removed, and will be publishing these details when they are finalised. We are also working on other initiatives including: reform of the disciplinary code and complaints procedures; implicit bias training for staff, fellows and students; and continuing the work of the Legacy of Slavery committee once the archives re-open.

Dr Pippa Rogerson, Master of Gonville & Caius College, said, “The College is committed to doing better in the way of diversity and equality at Caius. I look forward to the continuation of debate on race, class, history, science and current student experiences of Caius. We will develop together ideas of how to broaden and strengthen our community for all its members.”

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