Activists want outside study of logging

Throughout the semester, the UK community has debated the merits of logging Robinson Forest. On Monday, a group of students will meet with the university’s highest governing body, the Board of Trustees, to look at the issue one more time.

Monday’s meeting will be from 4 to 5 p.m. in the 18th-floor boardroom in the Patterson Office Tower. At the meeting, about eight people will present arguments against logging 800 acres of the 15,000-acre Eastern Kentucky forest, said Garrett Graddy, a geography graduate student.

“I’m hoping the Board of Trustees will realize when they voted on this project in 2004, they didn’t have all of the information,” Graddy said. “We’re hoping the board realizes there is a lot on the line.”

About 25 local activists and members of campus groups contributed to what will be presented at Monday’s joint meeting of the University Relations and Student Affairs committees.

Among their recommendations, the presenters will call for an external review of Robinson Forest from scientists who would understand the “extraordinary research” that the proposed logging would prevent, Graddy said.

“UK is aiming to be a top-20 university, but if you look at all of the top universities — Harvard, Yale, (University of California at) Berkeley — ecological stewardship is what all of the top universities are doing,” Graddy said.

Monday’s meeting follows a protest against logging Robinson Forest last week, when about 15 students, including Graddy, sat outside UK President Lee Todd’s office demanding a meeting with him. Todd, who was on his way to the airport during Tuesday afternoon’s protest, helped organize the meeting.

UK staff trustee Russ Williams said a trip to Robinson Forest with other board members last month made the 2004 board decision more favorable in his eyes, but he said he would be willing to reconsider it if the presenters bring in new information on the forest.

“I think any time you have a group of students who feel passionately about an issue, it’s important to address it,” Williams said.

Student Affairs Committee chairwoman Ann Haney also said she would be willing to reconsider the 2004 decision if new information appears about Robinson Forest.

She said she hopes tomorrow’s meeting will clear up misunderstandings about the issue, such as whether there would be clear-cutting and how many acres would be logged.

“A lot of misinformation has been going on throughout the commonwealth, and I hope this misinformation can be cleared up,” Haney said.

Also to be discussed at Monday’s committee meeting is a report from Allan Richards, chair of the President’s Commission on Diversity. The presentation will include a discussion on how UK will assess its progress on diversity.

The topic of the presentation stemmed from an Oct. 5 editorial cartoon printed in the Kentucky Kernel. However, the cartoon, which likened UK’s Greek system to a slave auction, will not be the focus of the discussion, Haney said.

“The situation when it happened was extremely unfortunate,” Haney said. “Maybe it opened some eyes, made us think, ‘What exactly are we doing?’ ”