TRU stands in solidarity with faculty, students, and staff at Bogazici University, Turkey

Teachers and Researchers United (TRU) at Johns Hopkins University stands in solidarity with students, staff, and faculty at Turkey’s Bogazici University who have been defending academic freedom and autonomy in the face of authoritarianism. 

On January 1, 2021, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan appointed a pro-government academic, Melih Bulu, as the new rector of Bogazici University. This appointment violates the principles and protocols of Bogazici University, which insist on the democratic election of university rectors by the university community. This intervention in the internal affairs of the university is yet another anti-democratic move by the Turkish government, and is part of a larger process of ongoing state repression. Such impositions significantly undermine the academic freedom and scientific autonomy of universities. 

Previously, Bulu was a political candidate of Erdogan’s ruling party (Justice and Development Party), and his political career is rooted in military and corporate circles. Although he has served as rector in a private university prior to his appointment at Bogazici, his academic qualifications have been called into question. It was recently found that his own PhD dissertation is replete with plagiarism. Despite clear evidence, he denies this accusation. His flagrant disregard for academic integrity makes him unfit to serve in such a position. 

On January 4, 2021, hundreds of Bogazici students, faculty, and staff who shared the above concerns gathered to exercise their democratic right to protest against Bulu’s appointment by the central government. They demanded Bulu’s resignation and a democratic election of a new rector by the university community. Police responded to this peaceful protest with excessive force, including the use of pepper spray and water cannons. The ongoing protests have been followed by heavy police blockades around the Bogazici campus, which continue to remain in place, and early morning police raids upon students’ private homes and subsequent arrest and detainment of at least 45 students. 

As a union concerned with academic freedom, militarization of campuses, scientific autonomy, and freedom of expression within universities, TRU condemns in the strongest possible terms the ongoing attacks by the Turkish government against universities. We openly condemn this blatantly anti-democratic and clientelist appointment of Melih Bulu as the rector of Bogazici, as well as the widespread police brutality, authorized by the Turkish government, on peaceful students. We urge the Turkish government to end its attacks against student activists and meet the demand of the Bogazici community to return to an election-based determination of the university rector.

In solidarity,

Teachers and Researchers United

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Fill out the TRU Covid-19 Survey

As we’re almost halfway through our first all-online semester, we want to keep on top of how operational changes are affecting graduate workers across the University. The administration is planning for the spring, and so are we – please consider contributing your experience to help us figure out what issues should be our focus moving forward!

Click here to fill out the survey, or send us an email at trujhu@gmail.com.

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Join us for our Reading Group!

Wondering what to do with your Saturday? Thinking a little (virtual) jaunt to the museum would be just the ticket? At 2pm EST this Saturday, September 26, join TRU’s new reading group for a discussion of Michigan’s grad student strike, as well as a ramble through a virtual exhibition on activism at Hopkins. And if you’re feeling ambitious, read up a little on the history of grad student unionization and tell us all about it.

For the Zoom link, send us a note at trujhu@gmail.com. Hope to see you there!

TRU Solidarity Statement on Black Lives Matter, Police Brutality and Ron Daniels Statement

Teachers and Researchers United (TRU) stands in solidarity with the protests and uprisings happening across the country in response to the brutal murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and countless others. We condemn police brutality in the strongest terms and call for justice for all victims of white supremacist violence. 

We demand that Johns Hopkins University recognize the harm caused by its continued insistence on establishing an armed private police force and abandon the plan to do so. We already know the harmful and often deadly consequences of policing for black people, and we are appalled at the university’s willingness to risk black lives on campus and across the wider Baltimore City community to establish its police force.

On Monday, May 31, university leadership issued a statement on the current movement against state-sanctioned racial violence without even using the phrase police brutality. Although the statement mentioned the “senseless violence” facing black communities, it failed to explicitly connect this violence to the actions of law enforcement. This explicit link is a necessary step in taking a firm stand against the militarization of and racism within American police forces. While calls for unity seem appealing during difficult and uncertain times, the university has refused to name the problem and take concrete steps to ensure that the same brutality does not become part of our campus community. Moreover, in response to the ongoing situation, the administration has arranged a virtual town hall rather than pursuing concrete ways to undo the structural harm perpetuated by the university. 

We reaffirm our opposition to the establishment of a private police force and call on Johns Hopkins to re-evaluate whether the use of its supposedly limited funds to finance police is necessary or helpful during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. We demand that Johns Hopkins cancel its plans to establish an armed private police force. We believe that the university should use its resources to support and protect undergraduates, graduate workers, faculty, and staff to ensure their health, safety, and wellbeing. A private police force will do exactly the opposite and further weaken the relationship between the university administration and the rest of our campus community.

In Solidarity,

-Teachers and Researchers United

Categories: Announcements News

Solidarity with Columbia Grad Workers

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We stand in solidarity with our fellow graduate workers striking at Columbia University – the need for strong graduate support, apparent before the shutdowns began, is even more acute now!

For more information on Columbia workers’ efforts, please visit their website, where you can see ways to contribute to their solidarity actions – send a form email to their provost, register for a workshop on rent action, or just get in touch to express your support.