Turmoil in one of Turkey’s most prestigious universities – Istanbul’s Boğaziçi University – was triggered by the appointment of an extremely unpopular rector in January by the Turkish president. There has been further controversy as a new rector, whom the academics almost unanimously opposed in a preliminary election, was appointed on 21 August.
Tınaz Ekim, an Industrial Engineering Department faculty member at Boğaziçi University, spoke about the voting that was held before the appointment. She indicated that the results of the voting were totally disregarded, and a candidate who was widely opposed received the appointment.
Speaking to the Mesopotamia News Agency, she said that the academics were now locked out of any communications with the university administration.
“There is no communication. The university administration prefers not to be in contact with us,” she said. “This is done deliberately. And the pandemic helps. It’s reached such a point that they’ve even started to turn off our voices in online meetings. They don’t let us speak. We are not used to such treatment at the university. The people in the administration have always been one of us.”
Emphasizing that being an administrator meant bearing a responsibility, she stated: Being an administrator is bearing a responsibility in our opinion. It’s a job to be done. It’s never an objective, on the road to a career.”
“And now we’re in an entirely different world, unable to communicate with our administrators,” she added. Referring to the preliminary voting in which 95% of the participants had voted against the appointed rector, Ekim stated that the vice rector had tried to present the vote as a “marginal” event: “He’s talked about the vote as if it were the work of a small, marginal group. Yet, there was incredible participation. 82% of the academics participated in the voting. And a candidate, almost unanimously opposed, has been appointed at the end.”
Indicating that the voting was actually an offer to arrive at a solution as well as an opportunity, she stated that they were willing to accept the results of the vote. “We would gladly accept any of the 17 candidates,” she said. “There were candidates with very different opinions among them. I am sure there were also candidates that Ankara would like. But they rejected this offer, although it was an offer for a peaceful and honourable solution.”
She believes that certain messages are being transmitted through the appointment of the rector. “Trustees are appointed to different institutions,” she said, mainly referring to the trustees appointed to local governments, disregarding the voters wishes. “Eventually, it won’t matter what people think when there is an election tomorrow.”