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February 16, 1995


Examining the nature of reality

To the editor:

I am intrigued by the University's new slogan, "Transforming the Present — Discovering the Future." Its Zen-like quality captured me and set me musing. "Transforming" suggests change and change can only occur over time, at least in my limited imaginings. The "present" suggests the passage of no time and so we have a conundrum. The second half of the slogan is equally challenging. "Discovering" means to find. Finding suggest that something already exists in the present. So thinking about finding a future (that already exists) also brings one to the edge of rationality. Our slogan invites us to examine the nature of reality, the validity of perceptions and thought, and the relationship between time and matter. Surely, this is more than one has a right to expect from letterhead.

I suggest that we do not stop at these two koans and ask readers to send in additional phrases that might be used. I humbly submit "Seeing the imperceptible" and "Pondering the imponderable." Of course, we should also consider the ancient but still powerful, "Hearing the sound of one hand clapping." By the way, for those who are hesitant about provoking existential angst in their letter readers, color copying old, sloganless stationery on high quality paper works real well.

Anthony Silvestre

Assistant Professor

Graduate School of Public Health


5 p.m. traffic woes on Bigelow

To the editor:

I wish to address an issue regarding the traffic flow on Bigelow Boulevard by the Cathedral of Learning. Surprisingly, I have not heard any public complaints on this matter, despite the fact that there are plenty of us who are stuck in traffic daily, trying to get home in time to take care of obligations there.

The problem as I see it is caused by campus buses that are permitted to double park outside the William Pitt Union each day, causing rush hour traffic to be forced to merge into one lane. The worst place to be at 5 p.m. each day is inside the Soldiers and Sailors parking garage, trying to get out onto Bigelow Boulevard. At times, the traffic backs into the garage onto the second level, Bigelow backs up to the top of O'Hara Street, and traffic on Fifth Avenue trying to make the left turn onto Bigelow experiences serious delays.

I do not understand how a decision can be made to take one of the most heavily traveled roads in Oakland, close one of the two lanes, and force all traffic to merge into one lane DURING RUSH HOUR! I can appreciate the need for mass transportation for the staff, faculty and students here at Pitt. However, I feel that this should not be at the expense of those of us who drive to work each day.

Jim Borowski

Research Accounting

G. Robert Harkins, director of Parking and Transportation, responds:

The University of Pittsburgh has a very active program to address the parking and transportation needs in the entire Oakland community. The University's goal is to coordinate all modes of transportation and traffic movement on and near our campus; of which the student shuttle bus system is an integral component.

Pitt's shuttle buses carry over 1.5 million passengers each year, consisting of students, faculty and staff. That represents a significant number of cars that are not in Oakland competing for additional road and parking space.

As with any mass transit system, services must be timed and tailored to its riders. 5 p.m. is when most of our riders require transportation and the Cathedral of Learning is where those riders originate. Yes, it was anticipated that buses staged in front of the William Pitt Union during 5 p.m. rush hour would cause traffic problems. But, because our buses transport such a large number of students and employees, convenient accommodations had to be made for those 1.5 million passengers. The WPU was the only option and its stops are scheduled for five minutes or less.

Realizing that this congestion would be particularly inconvenient for parkers in the Soldiers and Sailors Garage, recently notices were distributed to all SS parkers desiring to travel west on Fifth Avenue to exit via the west ramp onto University Drive then right onto Fifth Avenue. This will reduce the number of vehicles attempting to turn right onto Fifth Avenue from Bigelow and permit smoother flow for those desiring to use Bigelow to continue south in front of the WPU.

Balancing the needs of our mass transit riders and those of our single occupancy vehicles can be very difficult. However, our entire campus community has demonstrated the willingness to cooperate for the greater good of us all.

The Department of Parking and Transportation wishes to thank everyone on campus for their patience and we will continue to monitor the situation.

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