The Center for the Study of Muslim & Arab Worlds (CSMAW) at Cal State San Bernardino is one of the hosts of a webinar that will focus on academic autonomy and freedom for university students and faculty at Boğaziçi University in Turkey.

The webinar on Zoom will begin at 9 a.m. Pacific Standard Time on Thursday, March 4. Registration is required and can be done online at https://bit.ly/3pVlf67.

“I believe it is important to respond to the international solidarity request coming from Boğaziçi University faculty and students – what is happening in Turkey is not unique,” said Ece Algan, CSUSB professor of communication studies and a member of the CSMAW executive board. “Under the many right-wing populist governments in the world, many universities have faced various forms of academic repression, which resulted in student protests – the cases of India and Hungary come to mind in particular as a testament to why we should understand the current situation in Turkey and show solidarity.”

During the webinar, students and faculty at Boğaziçi University in Turkey will speak about their ongoing struggle for academic autonomy, and freedom and democracy in their country. A Human Rights Watch report said, “Turkish authorities have placed hundreds of student protesters under possible criminal investigation … The students were arrested during weeks of protests against President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s appointment of an academic closely aligned with the government as rector of one of Turkey’s top universities.

“Students and the academic staff of Boğaziçi University in Istanbul have exercised their lawful right to peacefully express their opposition to the appointment, which they regard as a move to impose government control over the institution and undermine academic autonomy and freedom,” the report said.

Algan said the appointment of the rector may not be the most significant violation of academic freedoms compared to other actions by the Turkish government – such as university closures and the expulsion of thousands of academics by state decrees. “But it is the last straw,” she said.

“The Boğaziçi University protests, which have been continuing for over 50 days and are supported by academics and students in many big public universities in Turkey, signal an important moment of resistance against the current government’s repressive policies and top-down control on universities,” said Algan.

The webinar has been co-organized by Academics for Peace North America and Research Institute on Turkey (RIT).

Hosting the webinar with CSMAW are the Academic Solidarity Network, American University’s IMES, Cornell University Institute for European Studies at Einaudi Center for International Studies, Harvard University Center for Middle Eastern Studies, Middle East Research and Information Project (MERIP), New School for Social Research, Democracy Seminar Research Institute on Turkey, Scholars at Risk, and the Turkey Human Rights Litigation Support Project.

For more information on the webinar on Thursday, contact Ece Algan at EAlgan@csusb.edu.