University department head dismissed over declaration criticizing presidential decree on post-quake construction

The management of Istanbul Technical University (İTÜ) has dismissed the Urban and Regional Planning Department’s head from duty after the department’s academics released a declaration in criticism of a Feb. 24-dated presidential decree opening the earthquake zone to rapid construction.

This file photo shows a building of the Istanbul Technical University (İTÜ).

Eren Topuz / Gazete Duvar

Istanbul Technical University (İTÜ)’s management has dismissed the head of Urban and Regional Planning Department, Prof. Dr. Funda Yirmibeşoğlu, from duty and launched an investigation into a declaration signed by several academics of her department.

The management did not give any reason with regards to Prof. Yirmibeşoğlu’s dismissal, while Associate Prof. Kerem Yavuz Arslanlı, one of the signatories of the declaration, tweeted on April 4: “An investigation has been launched into our department head for issuing this declaration and she has been dismissed from duty.”

Several academics and students quoted Arslanlı’s social media post and slammed the management's move.

İTÜ’s Department of Urban and Regional Planning, under the Faculty of Architecture, published the declaration of the “Union of Planning Schools of Turkey” on March 28 on the department's website. The declaration criticized the “Presidential Decree on Settlement and Construction under the State of Emergency” issued after the major earthquakes of Feb. 6.

The academics stated that even though the decree aimed to respond immediate need for shelter arising from the earthquakes, it ignored the opinions of the scientists and professionals. They emphasized that rapid construction in the quake zone could lead to major problems in the long term.

Just three days after the declaration’s release, it was removed from the department’s website upon the rectorate’s order.

Students of the Department of Urban and Regional Planning have called on all İTÜ students and academics to stand by Prof. Yirmibeşoğlu and gather at the Taşkışla Campus on April 6 at 12.30 p.m. local time to protest the management’s move.

(English version by Didem Atakan)