Protesters invited to speak at board meeting

The protesters from Tuesday’s sit-in who have demanded a halt on the logging of Robinson Forest were invited yesterday to appear at a Board of Trustees joint committee session on Monday.

Garrett Graddy, a geography graduate student and teaching assistant, was at the sit-in and received an e-mail from UK President Lee Todd’s office inviting her and the rest of the group to speak to the members of the board’s Student Affairs Committee and University Relations Committee.

The e-mail from Douglas Boyd, chief of staff for Todd, read, “I hope you will accept this invitation from President Todd and Board Chair (Mira) Ball to appear before a Board joint committee session on Monday, December 10th at 4:00 p.m. in the Board Room of the Patterson Office Tower.”

Boyd said he could not confirm if Todd or Ball would be at the meeting.

“All board members are invited to all committee meetings — not all board members go to all committee meetings, but we try to schedule them so everyone can be there,” Boyd said. “If President Todd can arrange to be there, I’m sure he will be.”

Greenthumb co-coordinator Taylor Shelton said this meeting will give the group an idea of where it stands in its attempts to stop the logging.

“We’ve been invited to a meeting, so the sit-in worked to some degree,” said Shelton, a geography and political science junior. “We’re going to try to keep it a small group and present our case in a succinct manner.”

Boyd declined to comment on if the invitation was a result of the sit-in.

Jeff Dembo, one of the elected faculty representatives on the Board of Trustees, sits on both committees that are meeting on Monday. Dembo said he did not anticipate much would change unless new information is presented to the board.

“It would be nice for the board to indicate that they’re willing to listen to student input,” Dembo said, “but I’m not sure there will be any new information presented.”

Graddy said the activists’ goal at the meeting would be to get the board to halt all logging activity in Robinson Forest.

“We’re aiming to convince the board that the opposition (to the logging) is so great that they rescind their approval,” she said.

In 2004, the board unanimously approved a plan that would allow logging in Robinson Forest, university-owned property in Eastern Kentucky. The subject of Tuesday’s sit-in is a forestry research project that would log about 800 acres of the 15,000-acre forest to study the effect of logging on streams.

The logging is just one of the topics that the group hopes to discuss at Monday’s meeting, Graddy said. At Tuesday’s sit-in, the group gave a list of questions to Boyd, who said he would pass them along to Todd and the board members. Graddy said the group will be calling today to see if Todd or the board has any answers for them yet.

Staff writer Jill Laster contributed to this story.