Monday, January 26, 2009

BREAKING: Bijan's response

This just came into my facebook inbox after I tried to contact Bijan to hear his side of the story.

In recent days, I have come under attack based on a partial recording of a meeting of Friends of the Farm at which I spoke. Through this response, I hope to clarify both the context and my position on the UBC Farm.

I believe it is important to clarify that the recording a) represents only a fraction of a larger meeting b) was posted online without context by an anonymous blogger. Based on the way this blogger frames the issue, it seems to be part of a deliberate smear campaign designed to prevent me from being re-elected to the Board of Governors. As someone who has never taken democracy for granted, I find these politics of personal destruction disheartening.

After the Friends of the Farm mentioned that they had endorsed Tristan Markle for the Board of Governors, I explored the possibility of an endorsement from them. I was invited to present to one of their meetings, at which the group was going to vote on who to endorse as a second Board candidate. I was later told that my presentation resulted in a split vote in my favour, and therefore no endorsement was made for the second Board position. Clearly, many people at the meeting understood that I am supportive of preserving the Farm.

The clip refers to a specific project beyond general support of the Farm, for which I said I needed an endorsement to signal my relationship with the Friends of the Farm. I had discussed the details of that project with the group earlier in the meeting. Given the large number of stakeholders engaged with the Farm issue, I stressed that I was reluctant to make that project a top priority if students and the university administration would not see me as legitimately speaking on behalf of farm advocates.

My message has been deliberately taken out of context in order to imply that I am more interested in blackmail and the accumulation of personal power than in representing students. I have served UBC students in elected capacities for a number of years, and I am not unfamiliar with the political side of student politics - but to me, that accusation goes beyond the pale.

I have been very clear on my posters and website about my desire to ensure that the University meets its commitment to the UBC Farm through the creation of a refreshed academic plan across all disciplines for teaching and research on the Farm. While I have paid close attention to the Farm issue during my term on the Board, I am not a one-issue person. I have successfully focused on other matters such RCMP issues and student housing, and I will continue to do so if re-elected. I do not believe this election should be fought solely over one issue, and nor do I believe it should be fought through underhanded and misrepresentative character assassination.

Please note that the same thing was posted on Gossip Guy's blog as well. In any case, thoughts? Is his 1.5 minute response justified by the circumstances? Who could this anonymous tipper have been? Please discuss.