Opinion-editorial published in the Martlet (Victoria), 15 March 2003
It is comfortable to pretend we are a big, happy family. Father knows best…
Current circumstances make such a stance impossible. Our country is sending battleships and troops to escalate the war against Iraq. The BC Liberals are levelling our social infrastructure to nineteenth-century conditions, pushing poor and disabled toward suicide. Striking workers at UBC are being run down on their picket lines. Those who deny the necessity for social transformation are either insulated by deadly wealth or too tired or timid to raise their voice.
On our tiny, delusional corner of the earth, UVic administrators insist on leveling a stand of mature Douglas Fir forest that stands in the way of their landscaped distopia.
I mean that in all sincerity. UVic students and workers have the privilege and the duty to lead the charge against war, racism, and privatization. Yet they are confronted with the backward vision of the dinosaurs who run this campus. Gordon Campbell “returned autonomy” to this university, and administration wasted no time in doubling tuition fees. The assault on low-income students is paralleled by the destructive trajectory of campus “planning”, with the Cunningham clearcut of Dec. 27 awkwardly anticipating an ugly sibling.
A climate of fear – dare I say terror – grips this campus and our world. Those who refuse to conform are bombed, beaten, bulldozed, or blindly legislated into submission.
Over 1400 students, staff, and area residents signed a petition calling for no further deforestation on this campus. Somehow, the Campus Development Committee accepted the lies of a so-called “environmental impact assessment”, which concluded – surprise, surprise – that a Douglas Fir forest was similar in ecological value to a vacant lawn.
Over 300 faculty signed a letter demanding an overhaul of the campus planning process, yet somehow building-by-building development continues to decimate our campus’ vanishing natural spaces. These “Living Classrooms” – or “Special Ecosystem Research areas” – are no match for university “leaders” who rush blindly toward conformity.
God forbid a university should depart from meaningless “input” and embrace genuine participation! God forbid UVic should build its next building on a vacant lawn that has sat vacant since 1961 while dozens of acres of adjacent forest have been built over! God forbid university professors, deans, and scholars should uphold their right to think and act critically!
This is my final semester at UVic. No doubt, many will welcome this news. But to all those who refuse to stick their heads out of the bunker: mushy-middle liberalism has led us directly to war, poverty, and ecological collapse. The middle ground has disappeared. Refusing to take sides unfortunately means you are siding with the powerful who control all our resources and make all our decisions. Step out of line, and you get bombed.
The only hope for a future that is no longer divided into two opposing sides is to take the courageous step of siding against the status quo.