(Ottawa – March 30, 2021) The Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT) has written to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to express concern about political interference at a leading research university in Istanbul.
The government has forestalled democratic rectorate elections at the Boğaziçi University, instead appointing Melih Bulu - a member of the ruling party - in January 2021, as trustee rector. Bulu’s installation overrides a long-standing practice at the University of electing faculty members to the position and is meant to be followed by similar impositions.
“Your government’s unilateral decision earlier this month to create additional faculties in law and communications at the university, with the intent of installing politically appointed academics, is political overreach into the university’s structure that undermines the autonomy and quality of higher education in Turkey,” the letter states. “It also contradicts your government’s obligations under the 1997 United Nations Educational, Social and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Recommendation Concerning the Status of Higher-Education Teaching Personnel with respect to academic freedom, and autonomy for institutions of higher education.”
CAUT is urging Erdoğan to withdraw Bulu’s appointment, rescind any alterations to the university’s academic structure and respect academic freedom and institutional autonomy. CAUT also condemns the government crackdown on student protestors, particularly those who identify as LGBTQ+.