University of Portsmouth students call for James Watson halls to be renamed after DNA scientist's racistÂ remarksÂ
STUDENTS living in halls named after the co-founder of DNA have called for the block to be renamed after James Watson's '˜disgusting' views on race led to him being stripped of honours.
In a new documentary Dr Watson, a founderÂ of DNA's double helix structure, said there is a '˜difference on the average between blacks and whites on IQ tests' because of genetics.
He added his views have not changed '˜at all' since 2007Â when he was said he was '˜inherently gloomy about the prospect of Africa'Â '“Â claiming tests had shown people on the continent's intelligence was '˜not really' the same as '˜ours'.
The 90-year-old Nobel Prize-winner has been stripped of honours he was given by the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory in New York as a result of his comments.
Now undergraduates at the University of Portsmouth living in the James Watson Hall,Â in White Swan Road, off Guildhall Walk,Â have told The News the building must be renamedÂ '“Â branding his views '˜racist' and '˜absurd'.Â
Student Ekoka Camara, 23, who studies sociology and psychology, said: '˜They need to change the name becauseÂ if they keep it it's like they're complicit.
'˜As a black man it's a shame I'm living in a building named after a man who views black people like that.
'˜Clearly him being stripped of his titles shows it doesn't matter who you are, racismÂ just won't be tolerated. That's a very good message to send to people.'Â
Dr Watson issued a written apology in 2007 after his initial comments.Â
In them he saidÂ while he wished the races were equal, '˜people who have to deal with black employees find this not true'.
International relations student and halls resident Katie Maxted, 21, said: '˜Obviously the building has been named after him for years. But if he's been saying these things for years, why is the university still supporting him?'Â
Lexi Smith, 18, who studies criminology and criminal justice, added: '˜You can't apologise and keep doing the same thing over and over again '“ it means nothing.'Â
In 2014 Dr Watson became the first living Nobel Prize winner to sell his medal, after a backlash from the scientific community because of his comments on race.Â
He had intended to use the 4.1m US dollars raised in the sale for scientific research, but the buyer Alisher Usmanov returned the medal to the scientist.Â
Creative media technologies student Elliott JohnsÂ described Dr Watson's comments as '˜ridiculous'Â but saidÂ renaming theÂ hallsÂ off Guildhall Walk would be a step too far.Â
Speaking outside the halls, the 19-year-old said: '˜They gave the hall this name because of this man's incredible contribution to genetics and DNAÂ and that's what they want to honour. They haven't given it that name because he's racist.
'˜If you dig too deep into a lot of people, they've done stuff that may not be socially acceptable today.'
The University of Portsmouth and Unite Students, which owns and runs theÂ block built in 2003, have condemned Dr Watson's remarks and confirmed they are consulting staff and students on the issue.Â
A spokesmanÂ for the University of Portsmouth said Dr Watson's work on DNA '˜launched modern biology and holds an important place in scientific discovery'.
He added: '˜The University of Portsmouth regards James Watson's comments on race as unacceptable and abhorrent.
'˜The university is committed to a working, learning and social environment based on dignity and respect, where difference is valued and celebrated.'
Unite Students said in a statement: '˜We strongly disagree with the recently reported views of DrÂ James Watson, which we find wholly unacceptable.
'˜We will continue to support the University of Portsmouth as they consult with their students and staff on this issue.
'˜We remain focused on providing a welcoming, vibrant and diverse home for students across the city.'