Many students, besides the Wreath Underground, at the university oppose the University Blvd Development Plan in its entirety and essence. They argue the development plan's purpose is to make the center of campus a corporate/private space to which students only have access as customers or condo owners/renters. They want to replace this plan with one that maximizes public space and green space (keeps the grassy knoll), emphasizes student controlled space, makes the centre of campus car-free, and actually increases bus-ridership across the campus community.
While the University claims that student input has always been apart of the development process, others disagree including members of the local SDS chapters whom police indicate they will be investigating.
Nathan Crompton, an organizer with the UBC chapter of Students for Democratic Society (SDS), called the recent acts of violence "a bad tactic." But, he said, he can empathize with the motivations of those who carried them out.
"Some folks are just very frustrated and feel that no matter what we do, the administration has its own agenda," Crompton said. "And the only solution, I guess, is to do these crazy things."
Crompton also said that the attacks needed to be taken in context, saying that the University became the first aggressor when it demolished the ‘Trek Park’ which had been built by students near the Grassy Knoll.
“The University, in its own way, has kind of launched into a type of war against the park in destroying [it],” said Crompton, “I hope that if this is at all depicted as a form of violence or something, that it’s done in the context of the University’s own aggressive bulldozing of the park.”
On her site "I'm Not That Kind of Whore" blogger whomever helps explain the actions of the Wreath Underground for Mr. Crompton and all those who can never figure out why anyone or group resorts to "violence" or property destruction in such situations. She writes:
"Much has been made about UBC being a commuter school with great apathy towards campus life and politics. And this is certainly why the Wreath Underground resorted to vandalism: because they are underground. There is currently zero chance of a student strike, rejecting the administration's development policies around campus. Given the circumstances and the administration's comportment, I can certainly see why some might think that throwing rocks through windows is the next step. Students must do better to force the administration to change the nature and goals of their campus redevelopment."
Trek Park organizers Stefanie Ratjen, Jasmine Ramze-Rezaee, and Nathan Crompton, told the Ubyssey that they did not know who was involved in the vandalism, but while they indicated that they were somewhat concerned about Wreath Underground’s decision to vandalize University property, they agreed with the group’s demands. The rhetoric used is a bit stronger,” said Stefanie Ratjen, who emphasized the University’s role in the conflict.
Trek Park, is a space "liberated" as a protest of the re-development project. The park, consisting of some grassy areas, a large checkerboard, and some benches and furniture, was set up to create a student-friendly, free public space, and raise awareness and opposition to the underground bus-loop that the UBC Board of Governors is planning to give final approval to this year. The 'park' was set up by a group of students loosely affiliated with The Knoll newspaper and AMS resource groups on the first day of school this September. Over the semester, those involved laid down sod, painted a checkerboard, set up tents, put on a concert, and attempted to create dialogue about the development.
Last month, as students were busy writing their exams, Trek Park was bulldozed. The destruction of the park is a brazen act of disregard for students.
“We looked outside and it was gone,” said Stefanie Ratjen, a key Trek Park activist. “What happened was, during exam period, when students were not on campus as much at the end of the term, the powers that be went to the Trek Park area, and demolished it.”
The whole thing reminds me of my youth.
The following was taken off the web site Ubyssey. The Ubyssey is the official UBC student newspaper.
The Declaration by the Wreath Underground
Tuesday, January 8th, 2008
This declaration was sent to the Ubyssey verbatim as shown above to explain the actions and motivations of the Wreath Underground.
We, the warriors of the Wreath Underground claim responsibility for the recent acts of targeted vandalism on campus. To avoid UBC Security deeming these actions random violence, we will declare ourselves here, our ethos and our aims.
The first of these attacks hit at the old Administration Building where the Board of Governors and higher administration have their offices. We demonstrated that we are absolutely prepared to take this fight to the bastards’ front door. Toope and his cronies do not speak for the students or listen to them; they are leaders in a system of oppression.
Our second target was the central building in the Ponderosa complex where the Board had its last significant meeting It was there that they refused entry to student representatives and without dissent, approved a $400,000 increase in spending for development purposes. We spray painted both locations and busted the windows in the latter. Our reasoning was simple. Close the door on us and we will find another way in.
And that idea is us in a nutshell. We will always find another way in. We signed petitions. They were trashed. We laid grass and built ourselves a paradise. It was paved over and SUVs stand on Trek’s grave. We put on a festival and invited President Fucker but he never showed. And we tried to play their game. We let them suck us into their process. We went to their consultation sessions. We sat and waited our turn to speak. It never came.
We now turn to the logical next step, direct action. As other groups have arisen from the peaceful campaigns of resistance, ours has been born in fire. We are those students who are tired of suppression. As they have tried to silence us, we will scream. As they have strived to pave over us, we will pave over them.
Our demands are threefold
Refinance—We will not pay for their development because we do not want it. We will not pay for the underground bus station and its mall or for the destruction of our knoll. We have little to gain from the former and the latter breaks our hearts. We will not pay for the Olympic skating facilities at school. We oppose what the games have done to our city and we will not let them turn students into Olympic hosts. We will make you realize how inconvenient a source of funding we really are.
Reconsult—Do not presume the right to tax us without representation, without allowing us a voice. Thus far, consultation has been a joke, limited and non binding. We recognize that this failure to listen is influenced by not only the pigheaded personalities of many members of the board and administration but the inherent lack of democracy in the system. We therefore demand mechanisms be put in place for current and future students to direct the affairs of their campus on at least an equal level with other interested parties (note: these parties with legitimate interest do not include developers).
Rezone—The plan is a lie. It has been from the beginning. If any construction is going to take place on campus it needs to back up to ground zero. The minor concessions given after the last official “consultation” campaign are not enough. The project cannot be improved. It has to be torn down and rebuilt. The plan is an anachronism. An underground bus station is nothing less than a crime if the skytrain is indeed coming to campus in the next few years. Go back to square one. Give us our seat at the table and let us write something that satisfies those parties the project really effects.
We will push these fuckers until they concede every inch. This is our declaration of war, declared here in public.