After bulldozing the garden that was built on March 24th, UVic was humiliated when its reactionary response was criticized by mainstream media outlets, students, and university faculty. When more people converged on the garden to rebuild it on March 31st, UVic changed its strategy. Instead of overt repression, the new strategy aims at marginalizing the network and the problems it raises. When UVic asserts that gardeners “impose [their] views about the use of land on the entire 24,000-member university community” they hope that no one will recognize the status quo: that land use on campus is administered and controlled by a tiny group of university officials.
Of course, the bureaucracy is not tiny, and there are consultations. There are proposals, meetings, committees, groups, petitions, and reports by all kinds of people. People work tirelessly within this system and sometimes achieve meaningful changes. For example, there is a petition circulating that advocates for dedicated agricultural land at UVic, as well as other important commitments to food security. But at the end of the day, after ‘consultations’ have ended, these decisions are not made collectively. They are made by a tiny group at the top of UVic’s bureaucratic hierarchy.
What would it mean for the university community to make collective decisions about how we—as members of the UVic community—relate to the campus, and how its spaces are used? What would it mean to think about UVic as a colonized space, founded on the dispossession of Indigenous land, and how might we begin to change the way it operates? What would it mean to grow our own food and reduce our reliance on transnational corporations?
These are only some of the problems that are raised by Resistance is Fertile. For many of us at UVic, the notion of collective decision-making is unthinkable: bureaucratic, hierarchical processes seem natural, as if there have never been other ways of deciding how to live and learn together. Similarly, thinking about colonialism as a present reality—rather than a part of history—makes us uncomfortable and throws our ways of life into question. It’s becoming increasingly apparent that we need to be growing our own food locally and sustainably, but corporate control of the foodchain continues to intensify. The UVic administration is not capable of solving these problems, and no one is asking them to. Resistance is Fertile offers no catch-all solutions either; only responses, which may deepen these problems further, connect them, and tease out the implications they have for our everyday lives. These problems are anything but marginal: they concern us all, and they won’t go away. They need to be fertilized, and if they get bulldozed, they’ll only grow back…