Dianna Yach, Chair of the UCT Alumni Advisory Board, writes to alumni
Tuesday, 20 April 2021
Dear fellow UCT alumni,
as chair of the UCT Alumni Advisory Board and as an alumna, I am deeply saddened by the tragic events of the last few days. I am of course referring to the fire that broke out in the early hours of the morning on Sunday, 18 April. A fire that decimated a much-loved restaurant run by UCT donors Jessica and Bernard Lyon. A fire that destroyed everything in its path eventually reaching our beloved campus.
You may have heard, through media reports, that both Fuller and Smuts Hall residences sustained significant damage along with a large section of UCT’s Jagger Library. Various historic UCT buildings and fields on Middle Campus were impacted also. So much has been lost that can never be fully restored.
Yet, there is a great deal to be thankful for. We owe a debt of gratitude to the many brave emergency personnel who worked tirelessly throughout the day and night alongside the University, the City of Cape Town and SANParks to bring the fire under control. Including the four firefighters who sustained injuries whilst on duty fighting the blaze. The damage could have been far worse. The executive, led by UCT Vice-Chancellor Professor Mamokgethi Phakeng, ensured that students and personnel were evacuated swiftly and safely. All students in effected residences have been housed in temporary accommodation around Cape Town.
Despite the sadness and trauma, my message today is one of hope. I want to remind you that throughout all the trials and tribulations that we have faced as a UCT community over time, we have always endured. Despite the setbacks and challenges, we continue to demonstrate resilience and courage. We remain the premier institution of higher education on the Continent of Africa. This is something a fire can never destroy.
Apart from our common identity as UCT alumni, I do believe that what unites us is a love for this institution and, the understanding that in spite of our differences, we can and do pull together in moments of crisis. So, my appeal to you today is simple: please support UCT once more, during this difficult time. The well-being of our institution and its students is in our hands as alumni. Support the disaster relief effort (#UCTFire) that is currently underway at UCT. I am counting on your generosity and your affinity to a place that you once called 'home'. Together, we can ensure that UCT rebuilds, thrives and continues to produce excellence for the next 100 years. Make a donation or pledge today .
Donations can also be made in kind. If you would like more information on the kind of donations needed, please contact the following representatives from the Development and Alumni Department:
Big or small, every gift counts. Your alma mater has never needed you more. Whether as an individual or as part of an alumni chapter or affinity group, please join hands with the Alumni Advisory Board to support UCT. Together, we can rebuild so that future generations of students can call UCT 'home'.
Chair, UCT Alumni Advisory Board
The University Of Cape Town Alumni Association seeks to promote support for the university and enable alumni to maintain close ties with the university. The Alumni Association is comprised of The members of the Convocation of the University of Cape Town and all former students who have completed at least one year of study at the university. The Alumni Association occupies an advisory role to the university. It is a platform for engagement between alumni and the University on UCT developments, leadership decisions and actions.
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