On Wednesday, the Duke of Cambridge traveled to Oxford to open Magdalen’s completed Longwall Library which has been under construction for more than two years. His Royal Highness also opened the Blavatnik School of Government and the Weston Library.
This library renovation was a multi-million pound project with a new wing added and the interior was gutted and tore out to make more room for reading areas and to let in more natural light. During this time, students have been using a tent they’ve lovingly named the “Marquee.”
Renovating Longwall has been a project of hard work and long hours of dedication by many; donations from alumni and telethons held by current students and administrators to raise the £10.5 million necessary to see this project completed. The construction company contracted to work on the building put in thousands of hours as well. So with a project of this scope and magnitude, there is bound to be controversy.
There are some who don’t think the Duke should be the one to open Longwall. First-year musician student from Magdalen Ted Mair is one isn’t pleased with this idea.
He said: “Prince William has made it to his current position simply by being born to a certain father. This appears to me as exactly the kind of cultural elitism that Magdalen, as part of the University of Oxford, should be discouraging. As an institution trying to open its gates to students from as many walks of life as possible, this choice of guest seems like a step backwards.”
Another source told Oxford Student Paper, Cherwell: “We have a great many Magdalen alumni who have achieved far more through their own endeavors than Prince William has by accident of birth. Why didn’t the college choose one of them?”
There are those though, who believe it quite fitting for the Duke to have this honour. Oliver Baldwin is one such student who said: “This is an honour for the school. “I’m very excited about The Duke of Cambridge coming to open the new library. The Queen is a symbol of Britain and The Duke of Cambridge, as the future king, is a symbol of where Britain is going, always remaining relevant to each new generation.”
Sam Sherburn, the current Magdalen JCR President hopes the Duke will see the value of the building.
He said: “I’ve talked about Magdalen’s New Library Project to more alumni than I care to remember across several Telethons It is a fantastic project and it is great to see it open at long last. I hope that the Duke of Cambridge will be able to see for himself the hard work and dedication of those involved in the project– and those revising for their exams, for whom the New Library is a much-needed asset!”