Reporter 439, 27 September 1999
I am watching with horror as a neighbouring department empties its bowels into a skip: video cameras, curtains, computers, slide carousels, file folders, lamps, coffee machines. They are not damaged. They just take up space and are thrown away.
This is now the second time in a few months that I’ve witnessed such a criminal waste - the previous time, an entire skip full of functioning though outdated computers.
No time to separate the useful from the useless? Granted. Why not contact a charity? They will come and take away what’s usable, and do some good with it.
In a world where others need what we throw away, a University which supervises theses in waste management should practise what it preaches.
Several South African newspapers on 14 June carried a syndicated supplement in celebration of Nelson Mandela. One page was devoted to a selection of the honours he had received, with the theme that while during the sixties and seventies Mandela was recognised by only a few bodies, the rate of awards built up through the eighties and nineties to the Nobel prize in 1993 and many honorary degrees. In all, about 170 honours were listed chronologically.
The University of Leeds claimed the second and third positions in the list, with his election as Honorary President of the Students’ Union in 1965, and a nuclear particle "discovered" at the University of Leeds being named the Mandela particle in 1973. The City of Leeds was in nineteenth position, with the naming of Mandela Gardens in 1983.
I wonder whether the great man maintained this list himself through his many years in prison, and perhaps the early recognition from Leeds strengthened him. A pity that we were not one of the many universities later to give him an honorary degree, but we might then have had to own up to the ephemeral nature of the particle’s discovery!
It is always a real pleasure to receive the Reporter since I spent almost three decades of my adult life with the University, and it is only very personal circumstances that forced me to leave.
Issue 438 (26/7/99) included several items with which I relate; hence this letter. The announcement of the well-deserved award of a life peerage to Ken Woolmer who, apart from his excellent services to society at large, was a very dedicated, supportive and warm-hearted colleague.
The reporting from the Telegraph of a finding of wasteful expenditure on the part of the Environmental Agency by John Bowers who always found fault where least expected. The listing of Hugo Radice amongst those promoted to senior lectureships so long after his pointing out to me that my own promotion in 1981 had opened the gate for all.
The bestowal of an honorary doctorate of law on the Rt Hon Jack Straw who was highly esteemed as the leader of the Student Union during my years as a postgraduate student with the University. The correction by Alastair Lumsden, regarding the first female professor in Earth Sciences, which reminded me of friendly sneers at my snooker miscues when we played over the lunch breaks.
And the obituary of Philip Thody, with whom I had a very long association, beginning with his chairmanship of my appointing committee and developing through joint membership in several activities, including specialist committees, Senate, Council, Senior Common Room Club Committee, events for the Senior Civil Servants Courses, University Tennis Club and personal interactions.
We played squash together, discussed his first novel, instilled by a remark by a science professor regarding professors of literature should prove their worth by doing actual writing, while playing tennis for the University, served behind the bar to save on costs while revitalising the Senior Common Room through staff discos (thank you Jackie Findlay and Sheona Ferguson for all the hard work), not to mention that he actually taught my wife when she was with the French department. I, and Diana, are really saddened by the news and wish to extend our condolences to his family.
Until recently, congregations for the conferment of degrees concluded with the National Anthem. This year a change of policy has now removed the Anthem from our ceremonies. As a result of this ban the ceremony is deprived of an appropriate and fitting climax. I trust that this policy may be reconsidered.
I would like, through the pages of the Reporter, to say "Goodbye and farewell" to all colleagues and friends I did not manage to see before I finally got away.
The entire summer seems to have been taken up with moving the central records office from the E C Stoner building into the Baines Wing. That is now complete and the office is up and running again. Therefore, as I head off towards retirement, I thank you all for your comradeship and friendship over the years and wish you all well.
Perhaps Mr Harold Best has overlooked some of the benefits to the community provided by the university populations.
I forbear to begin a sentence "I, too, live in these communities ..." since presumably the majority of university personnel with an LS postcode do too, but it seems some of them (Pravda 438, correspondence) have overlooked some of the downsides. You really don't have to walk too far from the campus to see the effects of rampant landlordism, and these are predominantly negative.
These effects are not the direct fault of the students who, as your correspondents note, are often welcomed and liked, but do not underestimate the opinions of those who have seen residential streets become rows of under-tended HMOs, often in a matter of months.
Without wishing to trivialise matters, where can I go for a pint of beer in a comfortable pub?
The recent demise of the Three Horseshoes, being fitted out as yet another logical extension of the Union Bar, is another very visible effect whose economic benefits will not accrue to the local residents.
This is not the first time I have found cause to address your organ on the topic of the University's (and its LMU sister's) responsibilities to the neighbourhood in which it lies, but I still see little evidence of this being taken seriously.
PS: Actually, I do know where to find a decent pub, but it would obviously be a mistake to publish its identity.
Having read the letters of response to Harold Best's correspondence in the Reporter about the difficulties experienced in Headingley, I wish to ensure you that as our MP Harold is representing the views of local residents.
At recent public meetings the level of distress and anger being expressed by permanent residents is increasing because their lives have been adversely affected by the dramatic increase in the number of students moving into the area.
We have lived alongside a previously balanced population of students for 18 years but the situation has dramatically changed in the past two. Our tolerance has been shattered. We do not know from year to year who or what we can expect, and even if the majority are respectful, two houses with a total of 12 students who behave badly, can do the damage for the whole academic year.
Our community is being systematically destroyed with families being driven out, primarily because of noise and anti-social behaviour, which frequently occurs between 2 and 4am. As residents we are able to recognise some of the benefits of living alongside a balanced community but equally it is important that universities recognise that there is a serious problem to address, and work with local residents and HeaL (Headingley Against Landlords) to address and solve this complex problem.
[Main news stories | News in brief | Events | Notice board]
HTML by Hannah Dee