By Dominique Blain
A group of urban planning students are putting down their pens and taking complaints about a professor to the next level by putting on their walking shoes and preparing a walk-out.
Pablo Torres, president of the Urban Planning course union, said most complaints about the mandatory planning law course are due to the professor, Ian Lord, an established player in the planning law world.
He has taught the course for more than 30 years. Torres said problems have escalated to the point where students have coalesced, drawn up a petition and brought their complaints to academic council.
They are planning a walk-out and writing a formal letter of complaint against Lord. James Mars, head of the Urban Planning department, said students have been complaining about the course for more than 15 years.
However, Mars said that while some complaints seemed legitimate, others might stem from the fact that “this is a harder class and there are failures.” “[Lord] does teach at a graduate level. Some of my faculty feel [the students] are just slacking,” he said.
Torres and Mars are worried students are spending more time hoping to appeal the course than studying for it. “They’re putting way more effort into getting out of the course than passing it,” Mars said.
Torres said he knows of 10 to 15 people in his year that passed the course after an easy appeal. He suspects students may intend to mass appeal the course this year. One of the complaints is that Lord forces students to purchase a case book, which he puts out, by withholding grades if they don’t. As of Tuesday, he started withholding grades.
Mars said that although he did not find any rule against this particular foible, he disagrees with Lord’s practice. “I’ve given him my interpretation of the rule,” Mars said. “We don’t think that it’s defensible on the part of the professor, but he doesn’t agree with us.
“To be honest,” he said later, “I don’t think he’s having a very good term.”
Lord could not be reached for comment.