War on campus

Guyana Chronicle
March 16 , 1999

IT'S a pity that the University of Guyana, which should be battling to lift academic standards and to produce graduates better suited for developing a young nation, has to wage a war against, of all things, litter bugs.

The story goes that the litter bugs were so rampant on the Turkeyen campus that the university had to set up a task force, headed by a dean, to address the problem and come up with solutions.

Having counselled, the luminaries came up with an Environmental Policy Statement and an Environmental Code of Conduct.

Heavy stuff, indeed, and makes us wonder what kind of war zone warranted these stern truce steps.

Now the authorities on campus have declared the place a `litter-free zone' and have come up with a `menu of measures'.

Serious stuff, indeed.

In a place where certain standards are generally accepted, the public, including tax payers who shoulder a pretty fair burden of funding the university, now knows students and others urinate and spit, for example, in places not designated for such bodily functions.

No wonder a task force was required.

Students on campus have taken to the streets of Georgetown demonstrating against conditions under which they have to study there and university workers have gone on strike for better pay and working conditions.

Given these protests, it would have been expected that campus dwellers would have been taking far greater care of their environment and not setting an example of a national disgrace.

And now they are being encouraged to adhere to a menu of measures to discourage overall environmental disregard on the campus.

UG Vice Chancellor, Professor Harold Lutchman, last week said he was saddened that in a university setting he had to be addressing persons on a matter as basic as cleanliness and care for the environment, especially since UG teaches courses on environmental studies.

We share his chagrin, especially since, as he noted, littering "is not a problem at even some of our primary and secondary schools, where students are routinely taught about the importance of environmental cleanliness".

But the greater concern is Prof. Lutchman's acknowledgement that the "University of Guyana could, and should, at a certain level, be seen as a microcosm of the Guyanese society, of which it is an important part."

"As such, it reflects, in large measure, major strengths and weaknesses of the society of its location", he noted.

Certain standards are, however, expected of adults attending university and we sincerely hope the UG authorities, with their

Environmental Policy and Code of Conduct, succeed in getting the university community to, in the words of Prof. Lutchman, sharply distance itself from some of the anti-social and unthinking patterns of behaviour demonstrated in Georgetown streets and markets where garbage and waste are indiscriminately discarded, without regard to the consequences.

There are some things that are unthinkable in an institution of higher learning and Guyana can do without the consequences of a steady flow of litter-addicted graduates from its university.