City planning students at the Graduate School of Design dissatisfied with their curriculum and faculty relations, voted yesterday to set up a student-faculty organization to improve conditions in the department.
The Harvard Association of Planners, according to the part of the constitution adopted yesterday, will include as members all city planning students and faculty who want to belong. Among the association's goals arc to open a student-faculty dialogue; to focus student opinion; and to "provide a constructive and cooperative atmosphere" for planning at Harvard.
The students' basic aim is to establish a "planning community" in the department instead of the present rigid hierarchy separating faculty and students, several of the organizers explained the week. "We're not undergraduates, and we have our own areas of competence," one commented. In such a "community" atmosphere, students would take part in discussion on curriculum and policy.
Specific issues which the association plans to raise include the number and type of required courses and increased faculty contact. "This is an exciting field, and great things are going on, but we feel that we should be getting much more from our planning education here," one of the students commented. "This is not a revolt for the sake of power. We just want to provide a medium of exchange."
More than half of the students in the department attended yesterday's meeting which, according to one of the organizers, served primarily "to legitimize what we've been doing already." A group of students calling themselves the "interim organization of Harvard planners" first met on March 1: they decided to organize the entire department and to publish a newsletter called "Interaction!"
Before yesterday's vote made the group official, the interim organization had gained some significant support from the GSD administration. The group received official recognition from Dean Jose Luis Sert; got representation on the committee which will make plans for the GSD's new building and possibly at faculty meetings; set up a series of faculty lectures; and published two issues of the newsletter.
William W. Nash, Chairman of the City Planning Department, yesterday called the new association "a wonderful idea. Students are unquestionably partners in planning, and I encourage them to take an active role.