29 March 2004

Passionate debate

Unlike your select brains trust, I have not yet had the opportunity to see Mel Gibson's film, The Passion of the Christ, so cannot comment on its content or visual effects. However, I disagree with your headline 'Academics slate Gibson gore-fest'. While they made many negative comments they also made some very positive ones as well: "I was unmoved. I didn't feel particularly offended, and I don't think the anti-Semitic stereotyping was quite as bad as I had expected"- Professor Richard Mendelsohn; "I was not offended - not in-your-face – " - Professor Milton Shain.

Even Guy Willoughby, although taken aback by the blood spilling, thought it "a very powerful film - very visceral and, in an ideological sense, gut-wrenching".

Perhaps the comment that sums it up best is that made by the group in general, which implies that our reaction depends on the "baggage" viewers take with them.

Crucifixion was an horrific spectacle and perhaps we are too familiar with the "Gentle Jesus meek and mild" or the shiny gold crucifixes worn around the neck of so many, which convey a sanitised view of the event.

I would rather encourage viewers to see the film with an open mind, asking: "why did this have to happen?" Then go home and read the famous Old Testament passage of Isaiah 53, foretelling the coming death of Christ and see if that explains the reason for Christ's death. Perhaps then the enormity of the event and the horror of the suffering will become relevant.

"He was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed." - Isaiah 53:5.

Roger Wood

Fine litterbugs

Having worked at UCT for a good many years it saddens me to see the state of filth and neglect on upper campus. Each morning staff and students who park in P7 and P8 are confronted with disgusting, rotten and filthy garbage in the area where the garbage trolleys are kept. The trolley bins are never closed so litter either blows out or is scavenged by starlings, rats and cockroaches.

The waste truck comes only once a week to collect rubbish (which seems far too infrequent) and the overflow spills to the ground and this is never swept or cleaned up. There are empty pallets, broken glass, light tubes, dirty blankets, etc, all left lying around, and to walk past this unsightly mess amongst the rats is really disgusting and degrading. Where are the cleaning staff and why are they not cleaning up? One can walk down Chemistry Road and see litter pushed into bushes.

As for the Cissie Gool Plaza, are there enough bins provided? Why so much litter on the ground? And as for the cigarette stompies, there are hundreds. How about a fine for litterbugs? Come on staff and students, let's pull together and restore the university to its former clean campus and not litter, keeping one of the most beautiful universities in the world a place to be proud of. As for the cleaning staff, why are they not supervised and compelled to clean up?

Disgusted Staff Member

Shuttles speeding

This letter concerns the current state of traffic activity on upper campus, specifically the functioning of the Jammie Shuttle service and the general speeding of cars on Ring Road, with specific reference to UCT service vehicles.

As student and staff member I have had occasion to hear many complaints regarding the service provided by the Jammie Shuttle operators. The Jammie Shuttle is a vital service to the UCT community but the standard of service is troublesome and disconcerting. I fail to understand why students (and staff members who use the service) are often stranded at various pick-up points for long periods, while other pick-up points on the route are over crowded, with shuttles standing empty, parked in the road, blocking vehicle and pedestrian traffic. The service can best be described as "irregularly regular". It seems that the standards to which the Jammie Shuttle holds itself are no better than those which characterise the minibus taxi industry in SA. Disregard for passenger and pedestrian safety through speeding, reckless driving and haphazard parking are the norm on campus.

In light of the limited pedestrian channels, speeding vehicles on Ring Road are also of concern. Most noticeable are the UCT service vehicles and other service vehicles on campus.

Just today (Thursday, 11 March), at the beginning of the lunch period, I narrowly avoided an accident with a UCT vehicle being driven recklessly behind me, only five minutes later I was almost knocked over by the same vehicle when walking from my car to my office.

I have been unable to locate any reference to pedestrian and vehicle traffic on the UCT website. To be honest, I am unclear on the traffic rules and pedestrian guidelines for upper campus, and from recent experience have begun to believe that these simply do not exist. UCT's upper campus has become an unsafe environment for pedestrians and motorists alike.

Daniel Steyn
Centre for African Studies

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