Boğaziçi University's new rector says he understands protesting students’ sentiments
Controversy regarding the appointment of Melih Bulu as the rector of Boğaziçi University, one Turkey’s most prestigious universities, is continuing with protests and the detention of protestors.
Speaking to daily Hürriyet, Bulu, the new rector of Boğaziçi University, said he expected such reactions and understood the protesting students’ sentiments.
“I was also once a student. They [students] like to consume their energies with these things because of their young age. I don’t see this as a problem. By time they will understand when they see the kind of a rector I am,” Bulu told the daily.
When asked about his political affiliations, Bulu, who ran for the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) in the 2015 parliamentary elections, said he was no longer involved in politics.
“I have been in academia since 2009, I have no interest in politics, I am on the academic side,” said Bulu, suggesting people to “take a look” at the universities where he was a rector and a dean.
Noting that he will meet with some of the representatives of the protesters, Bulu also said he wants to make Boğaziçi a “world-class university.”
Explaining that the rector appointment system is the same for all candidates and that he entered an interview as a result of a legal procedure, Bulu argued that the final decision belongs to President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and the chair of the Higher Education Council (YÖK).
YÖK also released a statement after the protests of the students, academics and alumni began the protests.
“Melih Bulu, like other candidates, meets the requirements for the rectorate application,” its statement said, adding that the appointment made is in accordance with the legislation.
Rector elections in Turkey were lifted in 2016 with the order of an emergency decree created and passed by the Council of Ministers under the leadership of Erdoğan.
Though candidate rectors were previously selected among the academics elected by faculty members and the students, the regulation allows for the selection to be done only by YÖK members.
Meanwhile, the Istanbul Governor’s Office banned all demonstrations and protests in Beşiktaş and Sarıyer, two districts where Boğaziçi University campuses are located, citing health risks due to the coronavirus.
The ban came after several hundred students carried out protests in Istanbul’s Hisarüstü neighborhood to demonstrate their rejection of the new appointment.
Istanbul police have detained 14 students in a broadened operation against those who organized the protests held in front of the main campus of the university on Jan. 4.
The special operations teams with long barrel rifles raided houses and initially detained 22 people in the operation launched after a day of protests, with the latest number of those detained increasing to 36.