New Boğaziçi rector’s attempts at reconciliation meet continued resistance from students, faculty

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by Leo Kendrick

Naci İnci’s appointment to the Boğaziçi University rectorship last friday made headlines and restarted protests at the university which have continued for nearly eight months, since the original appointment of Boğaziçi outsider and Justice & Development Party (AKP) member Melih Bulu by midnight presidential decree on January 1st.

İnci, who was initially appointed acting rector of Boğaziçi University following Bulu’s dismissal on July 15th, released several statements on social media in an apparent attempt to ease the tensions that have risen anew on the embattled university campus. In his message to students released on August 24, the new rector said he planned to cancel the disciplinary investigations that had been opened into students involved in earlier protests against Melih Bulu’s appointment this past spring. Mentioning that everyone has the democratic right to protest, İnci also stated in a message to faculty on August 25 that he would approach the rectorship not as a ‘populist’ but as a serious, rule-abiding acedemic. 

Boğaziçi faculty responded almost immediately to İnci’s overture, demanding again his resignation, and refusing to accept his appointment to the rectorship. The note from faculty reiterated that the Inci is opposed by some 95% of the faculty, a fact that was made clear by a faculty vote on July 30th during the selection process of a new rector. Then-acting rector Inci’s July 16th dismissal of Professor Can Candan, a long-time faculty member and leading figure in the protests against Melih Bulu, was also mentioned in the faculty’s note to the rector.

At the core of student and faculty grievances with the new rector Inci is the undemocratic manner in which he, and his predecessor alike, were appointed to the rectorship. They argue the rectorship should be decided by faculty vote, in keeping with Boğaziçi precedent. In the faculty note, it is mentioned that the greatest possible contribution the new rector could make to Boğaziçi University would be “to not pass to the rectorship in an undemocratic fashion.” As faculty voice their demands, student protests have once again started in earnest. At a protest and attempted press conference in front of the AKP headquarters in Sariyer, a neighborhood of Istanbul, eight students were taken into custody on Monday evening. Police at the scene informed students that the Sariyer municipality had banned demonstrations for a one month period, without further explanation. Shortly after their detention, the students were released. 

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