One more ‘Gezi’ measure for universities
PINAR ÖĞÜNÇWhat a Gezi it was. First, there was talk of “preventive detention.” Then last week, in universities, preventive expulsion” was introduced. What is this? “If deemed necessary,” any student who has disciplinary proceedings against him or her will not even be allowed on campus, as a “precaution.” This means the punishing of the student in advance.
This is strange; you are making some changes, even though only superficial, to a regulation that has been used since 1985 and was awful in terms of the definition and practice of rights. The amendments came into effect in August 2012. Then, the Gezi incidents happened. You immediately took back a few of the amendments that you appeared to have corrected. These included the measure named as “preventative expulsion,” even though it had not been practiced for five years and had in fact become obsolete. Three steps backwards in terms of rights and freedoms…
A while ago, Benan Molu, Esra Demir Gürsel, Gülşah Kurt, Hülya Dinçer and Zeynep Kıvılcım prepared a book on these university investigations accessible to the public. (It can be read at http://universitelerdedisiplinsorusturmalari.blogspot.com)
Five academics, within the framework of 13 investigations opened in Istanbul and Dicle Universities, examine how both the new and the old regulation have been based on vague expressions and how arbitrarily they have been carried out. These investigations are full of usurpation of rights against the students. Moreover, in the punishments, the students, apart from the interventions into their educational rights, also experience consequences that affect their lives such as being victimized in terms of student loans and student fees, expulsion from dormitories, and not being allowed to attend social club activities. It was like this before Gezi.
The figures are unbelievable. According to data dated April 2, 2012, the number of investigations in 2000 was 2,601. This figure went up to 6,001 in 2010, then became 5,871 in 2011. Only in the first three months of 2012, the number of investigations was 1,612.
Unfortunately, I don’t have enough space to explain at length what kinds of punishments are handed out for the act of writing on the door of a lecture hall, “The Hall of Martial Law.” Or, coming to school with a “black bag,” or singing a folk song with reference to the riot police.
It is for certain that the 2012 Discipline Regulation is no different in spirit than the one dated 1985. Even though some strange phrases such as the “student character” or the “dignity of the student” have been omitted, the system is fully intact, the one which does not consider the student as an individual (investigations are insistently reported to the family), which disregards the freedoms of expression and organization, where impartiality during the investigation stage and the technical knowledge of investigators still remain as a problem. Access to justice is almost impossible because annulment cases last at least nine months.
There is also the financial side of things. It is a problem to hire a lawyer. Besides, for example, the University of Istanbul can send in the bailiffs for the student for court costs when the annulment application is turned down. Also, according to statistics, for the last four or five years, somehow no verdict has come out of the Council of State in favor of the student. In the past, this was at least a possibility.
With the latest amendments, the oppressive environment trying to be built for the universities after Gezi has found one more “legal” tool. Main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) Deputy Chair Bülent Tezcan has filed a lawsuit for the suspension and cancellation of the execution. We will see how this will turn out, but the main issue is the mentality that fears its student and insists on disciplining them. What a fear this has been…
Pınar Öğünç is a columnist for daily Radikal in which this piece was published on Nov. 11. It was translated into English by the Daily News staff.