The Reporter
Issue 495, 26 January 2004
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Letters

Send your letters to editor of the Reporter, Vanessa Bridge. Email the.reporter@leeds.ac.uk or send by internal post to press office, 12.67 E C Stoner building

 

Emissions ‘r’ us: (Richard Howson: Residential and Commercial Services) – It’s not often an academic report makes the front page of a national newspaper but Professor Chris Thomas has drawn attention to the impact of global warming on bio- diversity to great effect. (“An unnatural disaster” – Guardian 7/1/04).
Though Leeds is at the cutting edge of research in the field, both the institution and the people who work here do little or nothing to help solve or even ameliorate the problem. Car emissions are cited as a major factor that contributes to global warming. Yet more than 60 percent of University staff drive to work, often over great distances. Only 28 percent use public transport while a meagre 12 percent walk or cycle.
Leeds residents are only too aware of the reduction in traffic congestion and the improved air quality during the University vacations. It’s reasonable to assume that the more insidious problem of associated greenhouse gas emissions are also reduced and to conclude that we may be more of a problem than a solution.
The University gains prestige through media coverage. It’s a feather in our cap and we should stick one in while we can still find birds to pluck. With knowledge comes responsibility, however.
It’s easy to blame the American government who have refused to sign up to even the modest Kyoto agreement but we can’t criticise Joe Public who is being told that global warming is “the biggest con ever to be perpetrated on the world.”
We have no such excuse. Professor Thomas and his colleagues are right to be concerned.

THE GM debate: (Dr Jacqui Stewart, Senior Lecturer in Theology) – Readers of the GM Debate in Reporter Issue 493 may be interested in the following chapter dealing with theological aspects of the new applied genetics including GM: Stewart, J.A. (2003) Re-Ordering Means and Ends: Ellul and the New Genetics. In: Deane-Drummond, C., Szerszynski, B., Grove- White, R (ed.) Re-Ordering Nature: theology, society and the new genetics, T&T Clark, pp.257-274.

Flying the flag: (Chris Jones, Porter) – I was recently given the task of raising the Union Flag to half-mast on the Parkinson Building. This was to mark the passing of a prominent member of staff. It might sound strange that I had to raise the flag to half-mast, but the fact is, it is never flown at full-mast. Instead it sits folded in a filing cabinet in the porters’ office.
I don’t know the reason why our national flag isn’t permanently flown. Maybe it’s because some far-right groups have tried to adopt it as their own. My opinion is that the more respectable companies and institutions fly the flag – especially places like the University of Leeds, which welcomes students and staff of many nationalities – the less it will be seen as a negative symbol. Most other countries fly their flag with pride and so should we. If not the Union flag, then maybe England’s Cross of St George, or even a design combining the University crest with one of the former.
Let’s fly our flag high with pride and then on the thankfully rare, but sad occasions when it is necessary, it could be lowered to show true respect as is traditional.

The start of Christmas: (Brian McCarthy, TechniTex Faraday Partnership) – I write to congratulate all those involved in the organisation and execution of the 2003 Carol Service held in the Great Hall on December 7. It was an event of the highest quality with excellent performances from the choir (including some outstanding solo pieces) and orchestra and a collection of thoughtful and moving readings. It was a true credit to the University and an excellent start to the Christmas season. Well worth the drive from Manchester on a cold frosty December day.

Bad news coming: (Christopher Hammond, Institute for Materials Research) – “Bad news coming, thought Winston. And sure enough… came the announcement that, as from next week, the chocolate ration would be reduced from thirty grams to twenty.”
“It appeared that there had even been demonstrations to thank Big Brother for raising the chocolate ration to twenty grams a week. Was it possible that they could swallow this after only twenty-four hours?”
George Orwell ‘1984’ (1949), ch II & V

“Academic space per FTE student has reduced from 20.5m2 in 1988/89 to 11.8m2 in 2002. There is an objective of achieving a further reduction to 9m2 per FTE by 2007/8.”
“We are committed to providing all of our students….with a challenging, rewarding, supportive and enjoyable environment…one which is responsive to their needs, which facilitates their personal development.’
University of Leeds Estate
Strategy (2003) pp 5 & 14

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