Acting rector of Boğaziçi University dismisses activist academic

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Prof. Dr. Naci İnci, the vice rector of Boğaziçi University who was recently appointed acting rector, has dismissed Can Candan, a faculty member and documentary filmmaker, according to local media reports.

The Council of Higher Education (YÖK) on Thursday appointed İnci as acting rector following the dismissal of Melih Bulu, whose appointment by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in early January sparked more than six months of protests.

Candan, a vocal supporter of the resistance against appointed rectors at Boğaziçi, where he had been a lecturer since 2007, on Friday announced his dismissal in a tweet, saying he was fired without consultation with his colleagues.

“We have been saying since yesterday that the dismissal of Melih Bulu isn’t an achievement. The dismissal of our teacher, Can Candan, proves that. We won’t leave any of our teachers alone, and we’ll continue to fight!” Boğaziçi Dayanışması, an independent student platform at the university, tweeted.

Shortly after Bulu’s dismissal, the group demanded that a democratic election to be held at the university to elect a new rector, adding that they would not accept the appointment of a new rector to replace Bulu, either from within or outside the university, since they oppose the appointment of rectors by Erdoğan.

“The dismissal of a puppet who was appointed [by decree] at midnight [by another decree] at midnight doesn’t represent an achievement, but only a crisis of management and the lack of ability of the palace [Erdoğan]!” they said on Thursday.

Meanwhile Ali Mahir Başarır, an MP from the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), on Friday argued during a live TV program that Erdoğan would appoint “someone worse than Bulu” to replace him as the new rector.

“He [new rector] will fulfill his [Erdoğan’s] wishes, come down on students like a ton of bricks and exploit the school’s rules in order to expel students at every chance he gets, taking Boğaziçi University much further back academically and scientifically,” Başarır stated.

Students and alumni as well as politicians and activists have since the beginning of January protested the appointment of Bulu, a founding member of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP)’s Sarıyer district branch and former deputy chairman of the AKP’s İstanbul provincial chapter, as rector. They argued that it was a part of Erdoğan’s broader effort to centralize control over universities and that it undercuts academic freedoms and democracy.

Since early 2021 hundreds demanding the resignation of Bulu and the appointment of a rector from the university staff after the holding of an election have been detained for participating in the youth-driven protests that have echoes of the Gezi Park protests that erupted in 2013 against plans to demolish a park in İstanbul’s Taksim neighborhood before spreading nationally and presenting a direct challenge to Erdoğan’s rule.

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