On July 3, 2021, the administration of Boğaziçi University sealed off access to its campus in an apparent effort to restrict protest activities marking the six-month anniversary of a controversial rector appointment.
Since January 2021, students and faculty across Turkey have held protests in response to a controversial appointment of the Boğaziçi University rector by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. Police have used force and arrested demonstrators in many of the protests.
On July 3, the rector’s office released a statement on its website announcing that university entrances would be restricted over the weekend until Monday, July 5, at 7:00 PM local time. The university cited unspecified “safety and health risks.”
According to reports, at least two professors were unable to enter campus on July 3. Boğaziçi University Associate Professor Ayfer Bartu Candan shared an image to his Twitter account of barricades placed between the closed gates of the university and a street. Turkey’s University Faculty Members Association released a statement regarding the closure of the campus, calling it a “constitutional crime.”
Scholars at Risk is concerned by a higher education institution closing its campus in an apparent effort to restrict nonviolent student and faculty expression. While higher education authorities may take measures to maintain safety and order on campus, they should also refrain from efforts to restrict scholars’ and students’ peaceful expressive activity. Campus closures intended to restrict peaceful expressive activity undermine academic freedom.