Branch Resolution: Solidarity with the campaign for democracy and academic freedom at Boğaziçi University

Photo by Brookings.edu via [https://www.brookings.edu/blog/order-from-chaos/2021/01/15/a-new-assault-on-a-democratic-citadel-in-turkey-too/]

Proposed BUCU resolution in solidarity with the campaign for democracy and academic
freedom at Boğaziçi University, Turkey. Adopted unanimously 27.01.2021.

This branch notes:

  1. On 1 January 2021, Turkey’s president Recep Tayyip Erdogan appointed a rector (VC) to Boğaziçi University in Istanbul from outside the Boğaziçi community. [1]
  2. Boğaziçi is a top public institution with an international standing. Dating back to 1863, it has strong scientific, intellectual and democratic traditions. [2]
  3. Boğaziçi University Senate (2012) officially states its main principles as institutional autonomy, democratic governance and academic freedom. [3]
  4. At Boğaziçi, rectors are elected through free and fair elections by faculty. The only time in the institution’s history when these democratic process were suspended was the aftermath of the 1980 coup d’état. [4]
  5. In 1992, Boğaziçi was the first university in Turkey to reintroduce democratic governance and rectoral elections thereby setting a powerful example. [4]
  6. In 2016, the president appointed the former Vice Rector Prof Mehmed Özkan as the rector although Prof Gülay Barbarasoğlu won rectorship for a second term by winning 86% of votes, undermining the institution’s democratic processes for the first time since 1992. [5]
  7. University members had not been consulted or informed about the appointment on 1 January 2021.
  8. The appointee has been a member of the governing party since its foundation in 2002 as well as unsuccessfully running for nomination by the party in parliamentary elections. And he faces allegations of plagiarism. [6]
  9. He stated a firmly neoliberal vision for the university. [7]
  10. Boğaziçi University faculty fear a number of negative consequences including hiring based on political affiliation, malicious investigations against critical faculty, budget cuts to humanities and social sciences, appropriation of the university’s iconic campus by private investors. [4]
  11. For these reasons, Boğaziçi university students, staff, alumni and the broader civil society have organised protests and online campaigns demanding the appointee’s resignation, a return to democratic process and an end to outside interference. [1] [6] [8] [9] [10] [11] [12] [13] [14]
  12. These protests were met with heavy-handed police interference. To date, the police detained more than 40 students. Some of these had their homes raided by SWAT teams in full gear. There are allegations of unlawful strip searches and abuse under police custody. Some 20 of the students have been released but the police operations and detentions continue. [15] [16] [17] [18] [19]
  13. 34 bar association heads have released a joint statement condemning the anti-democratic methods adopted in rector appointments and the police violence used against university students exercising their constitutional rights. [19]

This branch shares the following principles stated by the Boğaziçi University Senate in 2012:

  1. To enhance scientific research and social development, it is indispensable that universities be free from any pressure or influence from a person or an institution and not be used as a political tool.
  2. For academic freedom, it is imperative that decision-making processes be delegated to democratically elected academic administrators and boards. All academic administrators including the Rector, Deans, Directors of Institute, Directors of Schools and Department Heads can be appointed only after being elected by the university community.
  3. As universities in Turkey are autonomous constitutional establishments, it is vital that university instructors and/or university boards decide on academic programs and research policies, which is an essential prerequisite for scientific freedom and creativity.

This branch resolves:

  1. To encourage the University of Birmingham to make a public statement of support for Boğaziçi staff and students, and raise their concerns with Boğaziçi University Executive Board (Appendix 1) and members of the Turkish Council of Higher Education (Appendix 2).
  2. To encourage national UCU to make a public statement of support and publish it on their social media with #WeDoNotAcceptWeDoNotGiveUp.
  3. To make a public statement of support and publish it on our social media with #WeDoNotAcceptWeDoNotGiveUp.
  4. To share the following petition with members:
    https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSc_m3StSsK4Zm8Rp54aBMey5fgrCnEfX6
    _cMV5knhIsjaTrBA/viewform

Appendix 1: Boğaziçi University Executive Board
Prof. Melih Bulu (Rector) …………………………………….. melih.bulu@boun.edu.tr
Prof. Ali Izzet Tekcan (Vice Rector)………………………….. tekcanal@boun.edu.tr
Prof. Naz Zeynep Atay (Vice Rector) ………………………… zatay@boun.edu.tr
Prof. Aysin Ertuzun (Vice Rector) …………………………… ertuz@boun.edu.tr
Prof. Gunay Anlas (Acting Dean) ……………………………. anlas@boun.edu.tr
Prof.  Yasemin Bayyurt  Kerestecioğlu………………………. bayyurty@boun.edu.tr
Prof. Taner Bilgiç…………………………………………….. taner@boun.edu.tr
Prof. Ayse Gul Toker (Acting Dean)………………………… tokera@boun.edu.tr
Prof. Ozlem Berk Albachten ………………………………… ozlem.berk@boun.edu.tr
Prof. Ekrem Unal Zenginobuz ………………………………. zenginob@boun.edu.tr
Prof. Arzu Tektas ……………………………………………. tektas@boun.edu.tr
Prof. Yavuz Akpinar (Acting Secretary General) …………… akpinar@boun.edu.tr
Hasan Demirkıran (Undergrad. Student Representative) …… tr.hasandemirkiran@gmail.com
Mert Deniz Polat (Grad Student Representative) …………… mdpolat@gmail.com

Appendix 2: The Turkish Council of Higher Education
Prof. M. A. Yekta Saraç (President)
Prof. Rahmi Er (Deputy President) ………………………. rer@ankara.edu.tr
Prof. M. İ. Safa Kapıcıoğlu (Deputy President) …………. miskapicioglu@ybu.edu.tr
Prof. Necip Camuşcu (Exec. Board Member)
Prof. Naci Gündoğan (Exec. Board Member) …………… nacigundogan@anadolu.edu.tr
​​Prof. Mehmet Şişman (Exec. Board Member) ………….. msisman@marmara.edu.tr
Prof. Metin Topcuoğlu (Exec. Board Member) ………… metin.topcuogluasbu.edu.tr
Prof. Zeliha Koçak Tufan (Exec. Board Member) ……… zktufan@ybu.edu.tr
Naci Ağbal
Prof. Meh​met Çelik ……………………………………… mehmetcelik@ankara.edu.tr
Prof. Mustafa Çiçekler ………………………………….. mustafa.cicekler@medeniyet.edu.tr
Prof. Hayati Develi ………………………………….…… develi@istanbul.edu.tr
Prof. Nihat Hatipoğlu
Fahri Kasırga
H. Abdullah Kaya​
Metin Kıratlı
Prof. Hasan Mandal ……………………………………….. hmandal@sabanciuniv.edu
Prof. Mura​t Tuncer​ ………………………………………… bilgi@drmurattuncer.com
Prof. Hasan Nuri Yaşar …………………………………… nuri.yasar@marmara.edu.tr
Prof. Muammer Yay​lalı ………………………………….. muammer.yaylali@erzurum.edu.tr

Institutional Contact Information:
Address: Council of Higher Education (CoHE) 06539 Bilkent/Ankara
Telephone: +90(312)298-7000 
Fax: +90(312)266-4759 
Twitter: @yuksekogretimk

References:

  1. https://www.duvarenglish.com/neoliberal-authoritarianism-at-its-best-bogazici-
    university-academics-defy-erdogans-rector-appointment-news-55763
  2. http://www.boun.edu.tr/en-US/Content/About_BU/History
  3. https://bianet.org/english/education/236977-academic-administrators-can-be-
    appointed-only-after-being-elected
  4. https://www.duvarenglish.com/neoliberal-authoritarianism-at-its-best-bogazici-
    university-academics-defy-erdogans-rector-appointment-news-55763
  5. https://www.birgun.net/haber/academics-of-bogazici-university-protest-lifting-of-
    rector-elections-133949
  6. https://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2021/01/turkey-student-protest-erdogan-
    loyalist-bogazici-melih-bulu.html
  7. https://haberler.boun.edu.tr/en/news/melih-bulu-has-been-appointed-rector-bogazici-
    university
  8. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2021/jan/06/istanbul-university-students-clash-
    with-police-over-rector-appointment
  9. https://www.duvarenglish.com/turkish-police-attack-tear-gas-bogazici-students-
    protesting-erdogans-rector-appointment-news-55731
  10. https://www.reuters.com/article/turkey-security-bogazici/turkish-university-teachers-
    protest-against-erdogan-appointed-rector-idINL8N2JG2XF
  11. https://www.duvarenglish.com/bogazici-students-defy-erdogans-rector-in-mass-
    numbers-news-55755
  12. https://twitter.com/BUicinMezunlar/status/1346850526063943680
  13. https://twitter.com/bumedofficial/status/1346019155896639490
  14. https://twitter.com/BUeuropeBelgium/status/1346822861567221760
  15. https://www.duvarenglish.com/police-sought-to-strip-search-detained-bogazici-
    protesters-lawyer-news-55743
  16. https://www.duvarenglish.com/police-battery-of-bogazici-students-confirmed-by-
    medical-examinations-news-55774
  17. https://twitter.com/selingirit/status/1346765210351259648
  18. https://bianet.org/english/human-rights/237243-bogazici-university-protests-24-people-released-from-detention
  19. https://www.duvarenglish.com/turkeys-erdogan-claims-terrorists-are-involved-in-bogazici-university-protests-news-55789

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