03 June 2005

Not for sale

I'm writing to express my concern at the increasing and relentless commercialisation of our university's public spaces.

Every day students are being bombarded with one or other advertising drive or spectacle - if it's not film crews striking poses outside Smuts and Fuller, it's make-up companies offering free makeovers, and Kentucky Fried Chicken turning Otto Beit into a basketball court. Not only is this financially ruinous to the students - department stores (Foschini, Truworths etc) are now using our campus to guile students into opening accounts and incurring debts they cannot possibly afford to pay back - but it creates the wrong atmosphere on our campus.

The reason that some of us were attracted to the academy was because it is one of the few areas of public life in which one is not just a buyer or a seller; we wanted to be members of the academy because it represents the higher ideals of humanity, like freedom of speech and freedom of thought.

With the amount of noise generated by these mindless and invasive activities, we can hardly hear ourselves talk, let alone think!

We have given enough ground to Mammon, and it is time the university community reclaimed our public spaces for the purposes for which they were intended - to be communal spaces and not billboards.

Hlonipha Mokoena
Political Studies

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