Boğaziçi University has been resisting against government-appointed rector Melih Bulu and his policies since the early hours of 2021. Recently the government-appointed management has ruled that part time lecturers -including Feyzi Erçin who not only teaches at the Western Languages & Literatures department but also offers legal consultations to students during Boğaziçi Resistance- are to be suspended. Students reacted to suspension order and joined faculty members in solidarity with their professors. Police targeted the students' protest and raided the campus after midnight on the first hour of June 1.

#dokuz8/Gürkan Özturan

Since the beginning of the year, Turkey's most prestigious educational facility, Boğaziçi University has become the center of students' resistance and been an examplary show of resilience against governing AKP's policy of disregarding democratic elections and appointment of trustees to replace elected officials. Starting with the lifting of four day curfew on New Year's, as of January 4 thousands of students, tens of thousands of alumni and faculty members of Boğaziçi University have been resisting against the government-appointed rector Melih Bulu and his policies that erode the democratic campus culture. As part of Boğaziçi Resistance, hundreds of faculty members have been gathering on South Campus everyday, turning their backs on the Rectorate Hall and issuing statements about facts of government-appointed rector and his policies.


Government-appointed rector of Boğaziçi University, Melih Bulu who was an AKP politician and ran for parliament in 2015 under the banner of governing Justice & Development Party of President Erdoğan has been attempting the manage the university against popular resistance. In the absence of a University Senate approval Bulu is yet unauthorized and his decisions lack legitimacy under official circumstances.


Dr. Naci İnci who was appointed as Deputy Rector by the government-appointed rector Melih Bulu, appointed himself as the Director of Social Sciences Institute, as well as Director of Positive Sciences Institute, while both of the seats require campus elections and consultations with the departments.


In order to bypass the failure to get Senate approval, government-appointed rector Bulu and his deputy İnci referred to the self-appointed seats they are occupying and attempted to multiply their vote at the University Senate on April 22. This act was strongly reacted by the Boğaziçi University faculty members who declared "we are with our senators. Obviously irregular overnight foundation of faculties and departments was not enough that the illegitimate rector and his deputies are attempting to double-vote at the Senate in a sly and pitiful act, that led to the walk out of our legitimate senators."


Boğaziçi University's faculty members issued a statement against government appointed management's attempts to vote multiple times at the University Senate, "we promise to the youth that in their country universities will not be governed by outsiders with top-down orders. Rectors will not be determined on a midnight in the corridors of a Palace, disregarding the constituents of the universities. New faculties will not be founded overnight in midnight decrees, deans will not be appointed in the dead of the night. Universities are not the backyard of government bodies but they are places that will flourish under free, independent institutions. No handcuffs will be put on the campus gates and police will not patrol the campuses, students will not be detained. Universities will be a place free from pressure where no view or tendency will be repressed."


Government-appointed rector Bulu who could not officially become the rector of Boğaziçi University was hired as a professor at Istanbul Medeniyet University at the Political Sciences Faculty at Department of Management. In order to be appointed as rector at a public university in Turkey, the requirement of being a public employee -assuming a professor seat at a public university- had not been met for Melih Bulu as he was the rector of a private university before his appointment by AKP chair & President Erdoğan in the first hours of 2021. Bulu has been unable to meet this requirement for months when Medeniyet University announced a job advertisement that described Melih Bulu, and reactions were named as this ad was seen as "Bulu-specific". Two students at Medeniyet University were detained on campus after putting up a banner that read "Bulu cannot become a rector to Boğaziçi, nor a professor for Medeniyet."


Throughout the months of Boğaziçi Resistance, students have been organizing open lectures, workshops, artistic productions, concerts, rallies on campus while alumni organizations around the world have also been holding solidarity protests in various metropolises around the world. The campus activities have frequently been targeted by Private Campus Guards as well as undercover police as artworks created by students over the years on campus have been vandalized in this process.


After part time lecturer at Western Languages & Literatures department, Feyzi Erçin was targeted by government-appointed rector Melih Bulu, the unauthorized university management has issued a statement suspending classes offered by part time lecturers on campus. Erçin who has been offering classes as part of Film Studies Certificate Program, has also been offering legal counselling services to students during the Boğaziçi Resistance as hundreds of students have been subjected to police raids, legal processes, court cases throughout the five months of protests. Following suspension order, during the daily rally of faculty members on campus turning their backs on the Rectorate Hall, students joined in with their professors and declared "you have not forsaken us when we needed you, now we will not forsake you either." Following campus rally, students also set up tents on South Campus and started Tent Resistance. Under rain, government-appointed rectorate's management ordered campus sprinklers to be turned on, forcing students to move their tents on the concrete side of the campus square.


As dozens of students started a tent resistance on campus, hundreds of police also started rallying outside the campus gate with detention buses and started waiting. After hours of waiting at the campus gate, at 1 am private security guards, undercover police and riot police started coordinated intervention. The midnight intervention against students' tents reminded many people of the 2013 popular Gezi Park protests when riot police had set fire to the protestors' tents at Gezi Park in the early hours of May 30, as the pro-government media had claimed "protestors started fire to damage public property" the day after. On the eight anniversary of OccupyGezi protests, Boğaziçi University students were ousted from the campus with a midnight raid, multiple students reported wounds as the guards have hit the students during intervention. No students were reported detained as the riot police only ousted the students from campus and sent them home, during the curfew hours after midnight.

/Gürkan Özturan