06/01/2021 | Writer: Yıldız Tar
The students held demonstrations against the appointment of a trustee President to Boğaziçi University. We talked with Meltem from BÜLGBTİ+ about the events of the day and their demands: Even our presence in the university is under threat, we do not accept it, we will not give up!
Photo: Boğaziçi LGBTI+
Reactions continue against the appointment of Melih Bulu, an AKP parliamentary candidate for 2015, to the post of President of Boğaziçi University.
A president from outside of the institution has been appointed to the Boğaziçi University for the first time since the 1980s, by a midnight appointment signed on January 1, 2021
Academicians: We are against this practice!
Since then, students and academicians have shown their reactions on social media by saying "We do not want a trustee president". Boğaziçi University Faculty Members issued a joint statement saying, “Since the military coup regime of the 1980s, it's the first time a president outside of the Boğaziçi University community was appointed to our university. This situation is a continuation of the anti-democratic practices, that abolished the presidential elections in the universities, which have been ongoing since 2016. We are against this practice that clearly violates the academic autonomy, scientific freedom, and democratic values of our university” and reminded the principles of the university senate.
The joint statement from the student’s clubs’ including the BÜLGBTİ: The trustees will go, we will stay!
Student clubs, including Boğaziçi University LGBTI+ Studies Club, issued a joint statement and reminded that the previous university president Mehmed Özkan was also appointed to the post:
"We can all see the current state of the elements of Boğaziçi University, who were priorly forced to accept the appointment of Mehmed Özkan. Today, the dissidents and clubs are being oppressed by excuses such as Afrin demonstrations, LGBTI+ students are being oppressed by phobic lecturers like Nesrin Özören, the workers are being oppressed by thieving bosses like Vedat Akgiray, and all segments of the student community are being oppressed through oppression and hate policies. With all these policies, the government tries to make its hegemony felt in universities. In one night, together with Pamukkale, Antalya Bilim, Beykoz, and Çağ Universities, we faced the imposition of trustee presidents. As Boğaziçi became a part of this, the illusion has thus revealed itself. "
“We shall not accept the tyranny of trustees, the enemies of students, workers, women, LGBTI+'s, in our campuses that turned into police stations. It is our open call to all university components, trustees will go, we will stay, we will not leave the universities to trustees!" the student clubs stated.
The students protested all day: We don't want a Homophobic President!
The students protested all day on January 5th. Students from different universities in Istanbul gathered in the South Campus of the Boğaziçi University. The students opened carried banners that say "We do not want trustee president" and shouted slogans "The trustee will go, we will stay", "We do not want a Homophobic President" and "We do not want a sexist President".
Photo: BÜSK, the forum in the North Campus
Students on the South Campus held a press release, said "We do not accept the intervention in the decision-making mechanisms of our university" and continued:
“Based on the principles and culture of our university, we as Boğaziçi students say that the autonomy of our university would be possible by a democratical university president election by the university members, not by the from-the-top appointment of a random academician, regardless of their personality and background.”
Students also sealed the presidential building of the university: "This building was sealed by Boğaziçi students due to the appointment of AKP's Melih Bulu as the president."
Students marched to the North Campus after the press release in front of South Campus. The forum was held here. While they were walking back to the South Campus, the police blocked them from entrance and attacked the students with plastic bullets, pressurized water and tear gas. Police put handcuffs on the door to prevent entrance to the university. Four students were detained but released after mass reactions.
After the press release, which was read once more at the entrance of the South Campus, the students dispersed to continue the protests in the coming days.
Photo: Boğaziçi Solidarty
“They even handcuffed the gates of the university”
We talked with Meltem, a senior student from BÜLGBTI +, about the protests going on throughout the January 5th and the possible effects of Melih Bulu's appointment, why the students opposed this appointment. Stating that there is a risk of losing the gains at Boğaziçi University, Meltem told KaosGL.org what happened:
"Two days ago's call for action by the Boğaziçi Solidarity was widely heard today(January 5th). We started to gather as students at noon. The police were already there when I arrived. We could enter the university by showing our university ID. There was a crowd in front of the south door. We shouted slogans: "We do not want a trustee president", "We do not want a homophobic president" and "We do not want a sexist president". We all started walking north together. In fact, we were being prevented from walking between two campuses by shouting slogans for a long time. We were blocked on November 25th, March 8th. We were able to walk today and entered the North campus. The press release of the Student Representation Board was read again on the north campus. The forum was organized in the square. After the forum, upon the news that the president had arrived, we started to walk south again. Some of the students were able to enter, and there were others waiting at the door. The police had barricaded in front of the university. They even put handcuffs on the iron doors of the university… "
“Very important institutions such as CİTÖK and KAK are under threat”
Meltem said that they were a prep student when Mehmed Özkan appointed as president and that they reacted by organizing marches and campus activities at that time and added: “We organized marches, a trustee president festival, but we did not get the support we wanted. There a rhetoric that ignored anti-democracy and accepted Özkan by saying "but he is one of us."
According to Meltem, who stated that the appointment of Melih Bulu, a person from outside of the university, caused an additional reaction, and the environment of oppression during the presidentship of Mehmed Özkan may intensify further. Student boards such as the Sexual Harassment Prevention Commission (CİTÖK) and the Inter-Clubs Board (KAK), which provide a democratic environment, may face obstacles or even closures:
“As Boğaziçi, we have very important committees such as CİTÖK and KAK. These structures are established with a democratic and feminist perspective. We may face even the termination of these structures. As students in universities, we organize through the clubs, and KAK provides a more democratic discussion platform rather than YÖK's Student Representative Board (ÖTK). Consequently, these boards are very important."
The history of oppression against BÜLGBTİ+
The BÜLGBTI +, of which Meltem is a member, has been left on the status of candidate club for a long time. Reminding that the Hande Kader Scholarship was prevented in 2017 during the period of Mehmed Özkan, and a performance night of BÜLGBTI+ was thwarted in the same period; Meltem said that they are concerned about the increase of this oppression in the new period. Another risk, according to Meltem, is the diminution of students’ clubs' areas with the new changes to be made in university management. Meltem says that their presence in the university is under threat and they will continue fighting:
"We expect Melih Bulu to resign, elections to be reestablished and a new president to be appointed by election. It is obvious that the fight will continue. We will not let it go. The protests will continue in the coming days. Students and academicians are meeting, organizing forums, clubs draw and publish statements. It is gratifying to see solidarity from other universities today. Our call to students from other universities and LGBTI+ communities is to follow us and to strengthen solidarity… ”
Translation: Yiğit E. Korkmaz
Tags: human rights, education