On the 11 January 2017, the name for the new library centre was finally announced. After months of deliberation Professor Paul Layzell, Principal, and SU President Natasha Barrett announced, via a live stream on the student intranet, that the centre will be called the ‘Emily Wilding Davison Building’.
With the founding institutions of both Royal Holloway and Bedford College being the two of the first in the UK to grant women access to higher education, the university wanted to landmark the new library and student service centre, to celebrate one of the renowned alumna. Emily Davison, who began her studies in 1893 at Royal Holloway, is said to ‘encapsulate Royal Holloway’s ethos of empowering individuals to drive social and cultural change’, and as the Principal, Paul Layzell, commented “Emily’s campaigning spirit, her commitment to equality, and her determination to bring about positive change can be seen in Royal Holloway’s values today”. Emily studied modern languages at the college, before going on to become one of the most iconic figures in the movement of Suffrage, fighting for the political enfranchisement of women across Britain. As a member of the WSPU she campaigned among the likes of other female activists, such as Emmeline Pankhurst, before becoming a martyr for the movement; she died after she threw herself under the Kings horse in the Epsom Derby in June 1913.
Professor Layzell stated “I am proud to put Emily’s name to our new Library and Student Services Centre, knowing that she was one of the first women to be able to pursue a university education here at Royal Holloway, long before many other institutions opened their doors to women.”
The process to name the new library centre begun over a year ago, in March 2016, when students and staff alike were asked to nominate and suggest names online for a building. The name would become a symbol, which the University believed could equally ‘look to the past, and inspire the future’.
The shortlisted names were Sarah Parker Remond, George Eliot, Emily Wilding Davison and Hilda Martindale. The voting for the name of the library begun in October 2016, before the announcement was officially made on January 11, 2017, only 3 days into term 2. Despite the other candidate’s names not being chosen for the new library, the University will continue to celebrate their inspirational alumna. The new student residences, which are currently being built off Harvest Road, is to be named ‘George Eliot’, after the famous Victorian novelist who released books, such as ‘Adam Bede’, under a male pen name.
The new library and student services centre is the biggest construction project on campus since Founder’s, which was opened in 1886. The ‘Emily Wilding Davison’ building will be home to many services, and aside from the library, it will hold the Careers centre, Student Services, a shop, the bank, and a café. It will be opening in autumn 2017, just in time for the start of the new academic year.