Report on the Boğaziçi Resistance Lawsuits

On January 1, 2021, with a decree published at midnight, President of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan appointed Melih Bulu as the new rector of Boğaziçi University. Melih Bulu was a politician who had ties with the AKP and was the rector of Haliç University. The students, the academic staff, and the alumni of the Boğaziçi University saw this top-down appointment as a violation of academic autonomy and as a way to control academic freedom. This was not a singular situation. The power to appoint university rectors has been given to the president by the constitution of the Republic of Turkey. However, prior to 2016, the president had to appoint one of the three candidates presented to them by the higher education board from among the six candidates who received the highest number of votes in the university rectorate elections. Following the coup d’état attempt in 2016, during the state of emergency, the president was given the power to directly appoint rectors via a decree with the power of law[1]. As such, Erdoğan had been appointing rectors to universities since 2016.

[1] This decree was turned into law in 2018.

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