17 February 2004

Steady deterioration of environs

It is not only curmudgeons who complain about the state of the university's environment. Judging by the volume of negative comments, many members of the university community are troubled by the steady deterioration in the appearance of UCT's public spaces.

In the parking lots rubbish accumulates steadily until - one presumes - a sufficient number of complaints registered with the authorities. Only then are they cleaned. The entrances to buildings are covered in bird droppings; steps and platforms are permanently stained; paint applied in the distant past has disappeared off handrails, doors and windows; and where once ornamental plants struggled to survive there are now only sandpits (with the honourable exception of the botany department's indigenous shrubs).

The questions that prompt the many comments are simple enough. Is there a system in place for routine cleaning and maintenance? Or is there only a default procedure designed for action when enough appeals are recorded with the companies subcontracted by the university to maintain its environment?

Experience inclines us to the second of these alternatives, which is not satisfactory.

Sean Archer
Economics department

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