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Asking for Support for Bogazici University Resistance (Istanbul)

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For the past 14 months, Turkey’s top-ranking Bogazici University has been under politically motivated attacks by government circles, which threatens its very existence as the last autonomous and free public university in the country. On January 1, 2021, President Erdogan appointed Melih Bulu, who was unqualified for the job and a member of the ruling party, AKP, as Rector (Vice Chancellor) to the university without consulting faculty members. This triggered resistance among academics and students, followed by relentless attacks undermining Bogazici University’s governing bodies, administrative committees, student clubs and societies. Two new faculties were founded overnight and political appointments were made to key offices to sway votes in the Senate and other governing bodies of the university.

From day one, students, faculty members and alumni staged protests and a tug-of-war ensued between them and the appointed rector and his accomplices. The police were called on campus in early 2021 to crush student protests and hold the campus under siege for several months. Hundreds of students were taken into custody, some were held in pre-trial detention for months. Boğaziçi faculty have held vigils every workday since 5 January 2021, turning their backs to the rector’s office in silent protest. Six faculty members were dismissed in retaliation, and protesting professors became targets of smear campaigns by the government-controlled media.

Against all odds, the resistance succeeded in exposing Bulu as a plagiarist and incompetent administrator, which led to his dismissal by Erdogan after 7 months of protests. Following his dismissal, staff, students and alumni quickly organized a vote, and announced their candidates for the rectorate. Yet, Erdogan replaced Bulu with the latter’s deputy, Naci Inci, flatly ignoring the will of the university. İnci proved to be even worse than his predecessor, purging staff in greater numbers, disciplining hundreds of students and laying baseless accusations against some that led to months-long arbitrary detentions.

The attacks got fiercer in 2022, when the Council of Higher Education dismissed three elected deans for resisting the assigned rector’s orders to dish out heavy disciplinary punishments to students and faculty members. Naci Inci first appointed himself and his deputies to their posts, but then got academics from outside Bogazici University to replace them. Thereby, Erdogan loyalists gained almost full control of university administration and obtained the authority to dismiss faculty and expel students. They lost no time in abusing these powers. The rector created a new foundation, whose members include AKP deputies, to short-circuit the existing foundation loyal to Bogazici’s academic principles. The new tactic seems to be to re-tool the campuses, perhaps move the university out of the historical site it has occupied since 1863 to some faraway suburb and allow private contractors close to Erdogan to build commercial venues in its place.

In a recent letter, Scholars at Risk called attention to how politicizing the Bogazici University administration and punishing dissent deepens the erosion of academic freedom already underway in Turkey since 2016:

On Feb. 18, 2022, the Magna Charta Universitatum Observatory, which oversees the integrity of intellectual and scientific work in 904 signatory universities in 88 countries in the world, also issued a statement condemning the violation of institutional autonomy at Bogazici University:

http://www.magna-charta.org/news/mco-public-statement-on-academic-freedom-in-turkey

More than a year into the struggle, students and staff are exhausted, yet still defiant, standing firmly by the principals of academic freedom, institutional autonomy and democratic governance. These recent pieces offer a comprehensive account of the resistance:

Read also

We, the undersigned, condemn the intensifying attacks on Bogazici University, and stand in solidarity with the students, faculty, and alumni who have waged an inspiring struggle for the principles of institutional autonomy, academic freedom and democratic governance. We demand:

– the reinstitution of electoral procedures to fill major administrative positions at the university, including the position of Rector, Dean and Head of Institute,
– the reinstatement of unfairly dismissed staff,
– an end to the legal harassment of Boğaziçi staff and students,
– the lifting of all restrictions on student and academic activities,
– a return to democratic governance principles that made Bogazici a center of excellence and allowed faculty and students control over administrative decisions, academic programs, teaching, extra-curricular activities and university property.

We also urge President Erdogan to desist from his interference in administration and governance of higher education institutions in Turkey and to respect their constitutional autonomy.

CLICK HERE to add your signature. The signatures will be updated everyday at 00:00 (CET).

Institutions endorsing the statement:

BOYUT (Bogazici University International Community) Academy
University of Greenwich, UK
SAR, Scholars at Risk
SULF, The Swedish Association of University Teachers and Researchers
AAUP, American Association of University Professors
UCU, University and College Union, UK
GEW, Gewerkschaft Erziehung und Wissenschaft – German Trade Union for Education and Research
EĞİTİM-SEN, Education and Science Workers’ Union, Turkey
UCU, Universities and Colleges Union, University of Greenwich branch, UK
Saint Mary’s University Faculty Union, Canada
TUFA, Trent University Faculty Association, Canada
LSA, Student Union of Latvia
Belarusian Students’ Association
ISO, The Dutch National Student Association
SFS, Swedish National Union of Students
LUS, Lund University Student Union Association, Sweden
LDK, Lund’s Doctoral Student Union, Sweden
Academy in Exile, Universität Duisburg-Essen, Germany
Ottoman and Turkish Studies Association, USA
RIT, Research Institute on Turkey, USA

Signatories:

1. Arien Mack, Professor, New School for Social Research
2. Joan W. Scott, Professor Emerita, Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton NJ
3. Etienne Balibar, Professor Emeritus, Université de paris-Nanterre, CRMEP, Kingston University London
4. Wendy Brown, UPS Foundation Professor of Social Science, Institute for Advanced Study
5. Judith Butler, Professor, University of California
6. Seyla Benhabib, Professor Emerita, Yale University/Senior Scholar in Residence, Columbia Law, Columbia University
7. Didier Fassin, Professor, Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton, and EHESS, Paris
8. Michael Hardt, Professor, Duke University
9. Eric Fassin, Professor of Sociology, Paris 8 University Vincennes – Saint-Denis
10. Penelope Deutscher, Professor, Northwestern University
11. Michael Lowy, Emeritus research director, CNRS (National Scientific Resarch Center), Paris, France
12. Judith Revel, Professeure de Philosophie, Université Paris Nanterre
13. Rahel Jaeggi, Prof. Dr., Humboldt University, Berlin
14. Catharine R. Stimpson, University Professor and Dean Emerita, New York University
15. Rosalind Petchesky, Distinguished Professor Emerita of Political Science, Hunter College & the Graduate Center, City University of New York
16. Jay M Bernstein, University Distinguished Professor of Philosophy, The New School for Social Research
17. Judith Friedlander, Professor of Anthropology, Emerita, Hunter College (CUNY)
18. Susan Buck-Morss, Distinguished Professor of Political Theory, CUNY Graduate Center
19. Diana Taylor, University Professor, New York University
20. Andreas Huyssen, Professor Emeritus of German and Comparative Literature, Columbia University
21. David Harvey, Distinguished Professor, The Graduate Center, City University of New York
22. Michel Callon, Professor Emeritus, Ecole des Mines de Paris
23. Zillah Eisenstein, Prof. Emerita, Writer, Activist, USA, Ithaca college, Ithaca NY, USA
24. Gary Shapiro, Professor Emeritus of Philosophy, University of Richmond
25. Nancy Fraser, Professor, New School for Social Research
26. Donatella Della Porta, Professor of Political Science, Scuola Normale Superiore
27. Claude Calame, Directeur d’Etudes, EHESS
28. Sandro Mezzadra, Associate Professor, University of Bologna
29. Ewa Krolikowska-Adamczyk, Senior Lecturer, Dr., University of Greenwich
30. Haro de Grauw, Ombudsman, and vice-chair of SULF trade union, Uppsala University
31. Fatma Müge Göçek, Professor, University of Michigan
32. Francesca Merlan, Professor Emerita, Australian National University
33. Theodore R. Schatzki, Professor of Geography, Professor of Sociology, University of Kentucky, Lancaster University
34. Nicky Gregson, Emerita Professor, Durham University
35. Gregory Cherlin, Distinguished Professor (Emeritus), Rutgers University
36. Tim Ingold, Emeritus Professor of Social Anthropology, University of Aberdeen
37. Daniel Miller, Professor of Anthropology, University College London
38. Howard Winant, Distinguished Professor of Sociology, University of California
39. Laurie A. Brand, Professor Emerita of Political Science and International Relations & Middle East Studies, University of Southern California
40. Kevin B Anderson, Distinguished Professor of Sociology, University of California, Santa Barbara
41. Margaret Ferguson, Distinguished Professor of English Emerita, University of California at Davis
42. Mustafa Abbas Yongacoglu, Emeritus Professor, University of Ottawa, Ottawa, Canada
43. Nancy Gallagher, Professor Emerita, UCSB
44. Feyzi Baban, Professor, Trent University.
45. Hanan Sabea, Associate Professor of Anthropology, The American University in Cairo
46. Robin Celikates, Professor of Philosophy, Free University, Berlin, Germany
47. Elena Loizidou, Reader in Law and Political Theory, Birkbeck , University of London
48. Athena Athanasiou, Professor, Panteion University of Social and Political Sciences, Athens
49. Saleem Badat, Professor, University of Kwazulu-Natal
50. Domna C. Stanton, Distinguished Professor, Graduate Center, City University of New York
51. Sarah Bracke, Professor of Sociology, University of Amsterdam
52. Leticia Sabsay, Associate Professor, LSE
53. Jonathan Shannon, Professor of Anthropology, Hunter College and the Graduate Center, CUNY
54. Samera Esmeir, Associate Professor, UC Berkeley
55. Misagh Parsa, Professor of Sociology, Dartmouth College
56. Hamit Bozarslan, Prof., EHESS
57. Mark Drury, Lecturer, Department of Anthropology, Princeton University
58. Richard Bensel, Gary S. Davis Professor, Cornell University
59. Simon Dye, Senior Lecturer, University of Greenwich, London, UK
60. Eleonora Pasotti, Professor, University of California, Santa Cruz
61. Jonathan Wroot, Senior Lecturer in Film Studies, University of Greenwich
62. Markus Wolf, Principal Lecturer, Dr., University of Greenwich
63. Adriana Zaharijević, Senior Research Fellow, Institute for Philosophy and Social Theory, University of Belgrade
64. Jennifer Patterson, Associate Professor, Dr, University of Greenwich
65. Sanja Bojanic, Professor, University of Rijeka
66. Eirini Avramopoulou, Assistant Professor, Panteion University of Social and Political Sciences
67. Umberto Bongianino, Departmental Lecturer in Islamic Art and Architecture, University of Oxford
68. Laurent Mignon, Associate Professor of Turkish Language and Literature, University of Oxford
69. Zehra F. Kabasakal Arat, Professor of Political Science, University of Connecticut
70. Mark Colpus, Senior Lecturer, University of Greenwich
71. David Smilde, Professor of Sociology, Tulane University
72. Gabrielle Raley-Karlin, Associate Professor of Sociology, Knox College
73. Carol Warren, Associate Professor, Murdoch University
74. Baki Tezcan, Professor of History, University of California, Davis
75. Binnaz Toprak, Retired Prof of Political Science, Bogazici University
76. Daniel Loick, Associate Professor, University of Amsterdam/Barnard College New York
77. Michael Rothberg, 1939 Society Chair in Holocaust Studies, UCLA
78. Marie-Claire Caloz-Tschopp, Professor, CIPh, Paris / Desexil
79. Basileus Zeno, Visiting Lecturer, Amherst College
80. Anwar Shaikh, Professor, New School
81. Juliann Anesi, Asst. Professor, UCLA
82. Devrim Umut Aslan, Dr., Lund University
83. Mehmet Eylem Kirlangic, Dr.-Ing., Research Associate, Technische Universität Ilmenau
84. Pınar PEKTAŞ, Öğretim Görevlisi, Boğaziçi
85. Gustavo Garcia-Lopez, Researcher, Center for Social Studies, University of Coimbra
86. Santiago Gorostiza, Postdoctoral researcher, Centre d’histoire de Sciences Po
87. Panagiota kotsila, Postdoctoral researcher, CTA-UAB
88. Diego Andreucci, Postdoctoral researcher, Erasmus University Rotterdam
89. Utku Balaban, Visiting Associate Professor of Sociology, Amherst College
90. Shirin Saeidi, Assistant Professor of Political Science, University of Arkansas
91. Cathy Schneider, Professor, American University
92. Kaan Agartan, Associate Professor of Sociology, Framingham State University
93. Sebastian Wogenstein, Associate Professor, Dr. Phil., University of Connecticut
94. Halil Yenigun, Lecturer, San Jose State University
95. Nil Mutluer, Dr., EUME, Berlin
96. Cem Ozatalay, Associate Professor in the Sociology Department, Galatasaray University
97. Chares Demetriou, Associate Professor of Sociology, Lund University
98. Aylin Unaldi, Senior Lecturer, University of Huddersfield
99. Aysuda Kölemen, Dr., Bard College Berlin
100. Mehmet Ugur, Professor of Economics and Institutions, University of Greenwich
101. Esra Akcan, Professor, Cornell University
102. Isabelle Darmon, Lecturer in Sociology/Sustainable Development, University of Edinburgh
103. Lea Coffineau, Anthropology Doctoral Student, CUNY Graduate Center
104. Kaya Şahin, Associate Professor of History/Director of the Islamic Studies Program, Indiana University
105. Emek Ergun, Assistant Professor of Global Studies, University of North Carolina at Charlotte
106. Preeti Sampat, Assistant Professor, Ambedkar University Delhi
107. Ola Galal, PhD Candidate, CUNY Graduate Center
108. Elif Balin, Assistant Professor, San Francisco State University
109. Lindsay Parme, PhD Candidate, CUNY Graduate Center
110. Allyson Ganster, Anthropology PhD Student, The Graduate Center, City University of New York
111. Lesley Catchpowle, Lecturer, University of Greenwich
112. Çınar Fidan, Teaching Assistant, MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology)
113. Kurtuluş Gemici, Associate Professor of Sociology, Zhejiang University
114. Aslı Niyazioğlu, Associate Professor, University of Oxford
115. Burcu Ozdemir, PhD Student, The Graduate Center, CUNY
116. Asli Peker, Clinical Professor, New York University
117. Gunseli Gurel, Dphil student, University of Oxford
118. Aurimas Pumputis, Doctoral candidate, Lund University
119. Eugene Rogan, Professor, University of Oxford
120. David Chadwick, Dr and Senior Lecturer, University of Greenwich UK
121. Jeremy Rayner, Postdoctoral Researcher, Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology
122. Atacan Atakan, PhD candidate, University of Arizona
123. Ryan Mann-Hamilton, Assistant Professor of Anthropology, CUNY
124. Ayça Alemdaroğlu, Faculty, Stanford University
125. Nazia Kazi, Associate Professor, Stockton University
126. Manjusha Nair, Associate Professor, George Mason University
127. Alexander Greer, Professor, Brooklyn College
128. Alexandra Vukovich, Lecturer, Kings College, London
129. Nadine Viermann, Assistant Professor, Durham University
130. Mirela Ivanova, Lecturer, University of Sheffield
131. Cherry Smyth, Associate Professor, University of Greenwich
132. Sailaja Krishnamurti, Associate Professor, Religion, Saint Mary’s University
133. Alexander Dunlap, Postdoctoral Research Fellow, University of Oslo
134. Cagdas Dedeoglu, Associate Faculty, Yorkville University
135. Zeynep Korkman, Assistant Professor, UCLA
136. Ju Hui Judy Han, Assistant Professor, UCLA Gender Studies, UCLA
137. Kader Konuk, Prof., Universität Duisburg-Essen
138. Sherene Razack, Professor, UCLA
139. Alisa Bierria, Assistant Professor, UCLA
140. Melis Laebens, Dr., University of Oxford
141. Grace Kyungwon Hong, Professor, UCLA
142. Mustafa Yavas, Postdoctoral Researcher, New York University Abu Dhabi
143. Yeliz Teber, Phd student, University of Oxford
144. Tuna ALTINEL, Associate Professor, Institut Camille Jordan, Université Claude Bernard Lyon 1
145. Elazar Barkan, Professor, Columbia University
146. Mona Tajali, Associate Professor of IR and WGSS, Agnes Scott College
147. Suad Joseph, Distinguished Research Professor, University of California, Davis
148. Carole Browner, Professor, UCLA
149. Osman Cen, Assist Prof., Joliet Jr College

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