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Academic forced to vacate office at Boğaziçi University despite injunction

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Can Candan, a former faculty member at İstanbul’s Boğaziçi University and a documentary filmmaker who was fired in July 2021 for protesting against the university administration and was not reinstated to his position despite a court ruling in his favor, has been forced to vacate his office at the university, local media reported on Tuesday.

Although a court in March issued an injunction against the firing of Candan, who had been a lecturer in Western languages and literature at the university since 2007, he was not reinstated.

According to a decision communicated to Candan last week by Rector Naci İnci, the university “no longer requires Candan’s academic services as another academic was appointed in his place.” The decision added that Candan had “insulted his colleagues” and had been the subject of previous investigations.

Candan said on Monday in a series of tweets that he was asked to empty his office before the end of working hours in a written notice signed by the university’s acting secretary general, Assoc. Prof. Hasan Fehmi Topal.

The academic added that he vacated the office he had been using for 15 years in the remaining three and a half hours with the help of his students and colleagues because he did not want his personal belongings, books, film archives and equipment to be damaged by the university administration.

“I don’t need those [administrators] appointed [by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan] to give me an office. … Our struggle is not for offices, titles or positions, but for our principles,” Candan said.

A vocal supporter of the resistance against appointed rectors at Boğaziçi, Candan was fired by Prof. Dr. Naci İnci, the former vice rector of the university who was appointed acting rector after the dismissal of Melih Bulu, whose appointment by Erdoğan in early January, 2021 sparked more than six months of protests.

According to local media reports, İnci dismissed Candan following his appointment as acting rector due to an administrative investigation into the academic over a tweet in which he quoted criticism of İnci by Erkan Baş, chairman of the Workers’ Party of Turkey (TİP).

İnci had cited “Candan’s lack of attention to classes” and his “failure to fulfill the required conditions as stated in the law” as the reasons for his dismissal.

A prolonged series of protests broke out at Boğaziçi University after Erdoğan appointed Bulu, a founding member of the ruling AKP’s Sarıyer district branch and former deputy chairman of the AKP’s İstanbul provincial chapter, as rector on Jan. 1, 2021.

Shortly after Bulu’s dismissal by a presidential decree in July 2021, the university community demanded that a democratic election be held at the university to elect a new rector, adding that they would not accept the appointment of a rector to replace Bulu, either from within or without the university, since they oppose the appointment of rectors by Erdoğan.

However, Erdoğan on Aug. 20 of the same year appointed İnci, a former deputy to Bulu, as the new rector, despite a 95 percent disapproval rating he received in polls held among the university community to determine possible rector candidates, again prompting outrage among academics and students.

University staff members have been standing with their backs turned to the rectorate building every day in protest of the presidentially appointed rectors.

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