5 arrested in Mount Graham telescope protest

Kari Petrie

University police arrested five protesters for interrupting a Board of Regents meeting Friday, delaying it for an hour as they called on the University to end its involvement in the controversial Mount Graham International Observatory project.

Several of the approximately 25 protesters took turns reading a written statement which said the University disregards the local ecosystems and American Indian culture by supporting the telescope. Some of the protesters said they were affiliated with an organization called Earth First!.

“The regents are ignoring their duty to the University community,” said Dwight Metzger, a member of the Mount Graham Coalition.

Mount Graham is located 70 miles northeast of Tucson, Ariz., and the telescope is housed on a sacred site for the San Carlos Apache American Indians.

In October, regents approved buying approximately nine viewing nights at the telescope and eight nights at other observatories for $5 million.

In other regents news

University Athletics Director Joel Maturi on Thursday updated regents on the athletics department merger.

Maturi said the department is complying with a new NCAA recommendation to focus on keeping student-athletes from transferring or dropping out of the institution. In the past, the department focused on graduation rates, he said.

Regent Chairman David Metzen also asked the board to reconsider a spring 2002 freeze on fundraising for and construction of athletics facilities.

Kari Petrie covers the Board of Regents and administration. She welcomes comments at [email protected]