Motion on Solidarity with Bogazici University Students and Staff

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. University members had not been consulted or informed about the appointment until after the fact.
  2. Boğaziçi is a top public institution with an international standing. Dating back to 1863, it has strong scientific, intellectual and democratic traditions. Boğaziçi University Senate (2012) officially states its main principles as institutional autonomy, democratic governance and academic freedom. It is party to a great many collaborative projects across the globe, and is the alma mater of some of our most cherished collaborators, colleagues, and students.
  3. At Boğaziçi, rectors are elected through free and fair elections by faculty. The only time in the institution’s history when these democratic processes were suspended was the aftermath of the 1980 coup d’état. In 1992, Boğaziçi was the first university in Turkey to reintroduce democratic governance and rectoral elections thereby setting a powerful example.
  4. 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. 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. He faces allegations of plagiarism. Moreover, he stated a firmly neoliberal vision for the university going forward, undermining the premise of public and free education on which Boğaziçi University was established.
  6. 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. There have already been malicious and undignified attacks targeting faculty members by the President himself, whose media coverage further entrenched a Kulturkampf against sexual and ethnic minorities, student movements, and political dissidents. 
  7. 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]. These protests were met with heavy-handed police interference. To date, the police detained more than 160 students. Some of these had their homes raided by SWAT teams, along with disturbing images. There are allegations of unlawful strip searches and abuse under police custody. Some of the students have been released but the police operations and detentions continue. [15] [16] [17] [18] [19]
  8. 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 should only be appointed only after being elected by the university community.
  3. 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 Cambridge and prominent members of our academic community to make a public statement of support for Boğaziçi staff and students, and raise their concerns with Boğaziçi University Executive Board ( and members of the Turkish Council of Higher Education (
  2. To make a public statement of support and publish it on our social media with #AsağıyaBakmayacağız #WeWontLookDown  #Boğaziçi #AcademicFreedom 
  3. To share the following petition with members: