UC Berkeley Shuts Down Beehive Collective Art

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Students at the University of California at Berkeley were forced to bring an art project on drought and California water policy to the main campus on October 21 after a dean prevented them displaying it at Gill Tract Community Farm, an “urban farm” in nearby Albany run by the university and community volunteers.

The students say that Steven Lindow, executive associate dean of Berkeley’s College of Natural Resources, kicked the exhibit—a collaboration with the Beehive Collective, a political art group based in Maine—off the farm for clearly political reasons. They say that Lindow is tied to the genetically modified organism industry, and their event criticized Proposition 1, a state ballot initiative supported by the GMO industry.

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In a press release, the student group, Students for Engaged and Active Learning (SEAL), said:

Lindow claimed that the art show was “not relevant to the research at the community farm,” despite clear connections between the Beehive Collective’s work on drought and industrial agriculture. Prop 1 has been criticized as a sweetheart bill for water-intensive industrial agriculture. The event had been approved with strong support from community members, students, and the farm’s events working group. This was the first interference in farm events from the administration, and students feel that it is a clear example of repression against free speech on campus, with political motivation.

The students note that the farm, founded in 2013 and “focused on issues of food justice and urban farming,” was won through Occupy the Farm’s acts of civil disobedience protesting the privatization of the land. It is now the site of a partnership project between the community and the College of Natural Resources.

Lindlow shut down the event with only a week’s notice, so the students were forced to find an alternative site, the concrete steps of Sproul Plaza on the Berkeley campus. SEAL announced:

Despite political repression, students will be bringing this event to their classmates by hosting the Beehive Collective on the Sproul steps, where 50 years ago students demonstrated for their right to disseminate political materials.

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