We would like to start our article with Ezhel’s words from the collaboration song “Fight Kulüp”. Ezhel was arrested for a month due to the lyrics he sang and his right to freedom of artistic expression was violated: “….The hour hand chases the minute hand/ Every hour passes so fast / Struggle struggle again/ Breathe, get strength when you need it“
During the online education process students breathed together and got strength from each other against violations of rights in different ways. The online exams and assignments have also resulted in more rights violations.. The increase in tuition fees, followed by the students’ demands for financial difficulties to be alleviated, remind us that economic inequality leads to the violation of the right to education. The answer of the students is clear: “Struggle, struggle again…”
As the Civic Space Studies Association, we compiled the struggles and gains – the work of the students who have found a way to exercise their right to expression, demonstration and assembly in all circumstances- in this process.
We Demand a Discount, Not a Raise!
Üsküdar University students demanded that the tuition fees not be raised and be refunded due to the online education decision. After the Üsküdar University Administration ignored these demands and announced an increase of the tuition fees for the new term, the students organized on social media under the hashtag # UskudarUniZamaHayır. Following the announcement of the higher fees at TED University, students started a social media campaign saying #TEDUZammiHaksızdır. In addition to Istanbul and Ankara, Çağ University students in Mersin say; “We do not accept an increase in fees and some fees have to be refunded!” and they are running a social media campaign under the hashtag #ÇağdaZamDeğilİndirimİstiyoruz.
Okan University Administration gives the students the right to take three courses. This means students who are in the graduation period could take make-up exams in order not to extend the term if they have failed 3 or fewer courses. However, in reaction to to the high loan fees, students are making their voices heard using the hashtag #OkanÜniAdilOl.
At Okan University, 1.890 TL is charged for each class credit. A minimum of 6 credits is required for one course. Approximately 35.000 TL is charged to students who want to take 3 courses.. Students oppose these changes to the university curriculum under the hashtag #OkanlılarınTalepleriVar.
We Do Not Compromise Our Privacy!
Online exam system conditions cause violations of various student rights, such as the right to privacy and the protection of a private life. Işık University students met under the hashtag #IşıkBizimleDeğil, and oppose the management’s requirement to watch students with a camera during the exam. The students say that they cannot be treated as cheaters and that their fundamental rights should not be violated for reasons such as security. Piri Reis University students use the hashtag #PRUÖğrencineGüven in their social campaign against the university requirement in exams that the students are watched by a camera. Following the notification of the necessity of camera and microphone, a similar campaign has been created by the students of Istanbul University Department of Pharmaceutical Studies with the hashtag #İÜEzacılıkHakkınıArıyor.
Universities Should Solve Access Problems!
Another problem is the lack of access to online exams or homework loading systems. The students of Gelişim University demand that the right to be excused should not be taken away due to the difficulties in accessing online exams by using the hashtag #GelişimHakkınıİstiyor. Istanbul Aydın University students demand a right to be excused due to access difficulties and run a campaign with the tag #IAUSesimiziDuy. By using the tag #DoğuşÜniversitesiÖğrencileriMağdurEdiyor, the students list their problems as follows:
- The impact of midterm grades on final grades has been reduced.
- The time between midterm and final exams has been shortened.
- Exam periods have been shortened.
- The university does not take responsibility for access problems.
What Is Gained?
While these studies continue, we received good news. Özyeğin University students have made the most impact getting their voices heard. Özyeğin University students had been assembling as the Özyeğin Committee for a long time and acted as a solidarity-struggle network. As a result of the struggle against the use of a program that locked the students’ computers during the exams and watched the students by the camera, these conditions were removed. Another good news is from Istanbul Kültür University. The University (İKÜ) announced that there will be a 25% reduction in summer school fees. The Cyprus International University has also announced that there will be no increase in tuition fees for the upcoming period.
We have chosen to draw attention to these examples as they were covered less in the press. University students have been carrying out small or large-scale campaigns to announce their problems. Students continue to be successful by using their rights of expression, action and organization even in pandemic conditions. They continue to fight for their rights in all areas, even online-
# UskudarUniZammaHayır: Uskudar Üniversitesi students do not want the fees to be raised
#TEDUZammıHaksızdır. #TEDU hike is unfair
# ÇağdaZamDeğilİndirimİstiyoruz. We (the students) want discount, not an increase in Çağ University
#OkanUniAdilOl: Okan University, be fair!
#OkanlılarınTAlepleriVar: Okan University students have demands
#IşıkBizimleDeğil: Işık University is not with us ( with the students)
#PRUÖğrencineGüven: Piri Reis University trust the students!
#İÜEczacılıkHakkınıArıyor: İstanbul University Department of Pharmacy students want their rights
#GelişimHakkınıİstiyor: Gelişim University students want their rights
#İAUSesimiziDuy: İstanbul Aydın University, hear our (the students’) voice!
#DoğuşÜniversitesiÖğrencileriMağdurEdiyor: Doğuş University oppresses students.