SEAC's claims on verge of paranoia

Editor:

Once again, SEAC has come out with another outrageous and erroneous column ("Circumventing the law UA's answer to Mt. Graham debacle," Nov. 16), continuing a ten-year tradition of misinformation, skewed facts, false reports and lies. This time SEAC makes wild statements like "The UA's response is chilling in its attitude toward the laws of this country." Their arguments are on the verge of paranoia, accusing everyone involved in the Mt. Graham telescope project of belonging to an elaborate conspiracy and being a criminal. By reading SEAC's propaganda, one could be led to believe that the astronomers at Steward Observatory were responsible for the Amtrak derailment.

Further, SEAC's arguments are inconsistent. In their latest column, they claim that no studies have been done on the impact the telescopes might have on the mountain's environment: "Why is an institution which supposedly values research and insists that these telescopes have no impact on the squirrels afraid to do an impact study?" However, they also say: "Official government studies show that..." This is a clear example of SEAC ignoring and twisting reality to suit their purposes.

The fact is over 4,500 pages of studies have been done on Mt. Graham and the impact the telescopes might have on its environment. Every single one of those studies arrives at the conclusion that the new site is better for the environment, better for squirrels and better for astronomy. Further, the fact that the squirrel population has more than doubled since construction of the first two telescopes began is indisputable proof that squirrels and telescopes can co-exist.

SEAC wants to turn students against the telescope project by claiming that students' tuition money is being spent to fight lawsuits frivolous lawsuits filed by SEAC and their extremist partners. However, all the money being spent is not coming from tuition money, but from research grants, private investors and governments which understand the importance and benefits of the Large Binocular Telescope project. In addition, the completion of the MGIO will have significant positive effects on the university. The university will be able to maintain its leadership in the field of astronomy (bringing more funds to the university to sponsor research, attract high quality instructors and provide greater learning opportunities to all students). Leadership in astronomy and optical sciences will also result in the continued growth of the optics industry in southern Arizona, bringing more high-paying jobs to Arizona for graduating students.

The only distractions to the educational process at the university which can be attributed to the Mt. Graham controversy are from disruptive and inappropriate protests staged by SEAC members in classrooms and university buildings during school hours, attracting primarily out-of-state protestors.

The SEAC members write: "Traditionally, universities are a place where people learn ethical and honorable behavior." I couldn't agree more. However, the presence of SEAC and their tactics have tainted this university. These professional protestors have been around for years, spreading lies, making outrageous statements and in general giving any real activist on this campus a bad reputation. The student body does not want SEAC and their methods of operation any more. It's time for these so-called students to move on and get a life, and for the university to be allowed to complete this important project.

Sam McCune

Political Science Junior

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