State of Emergency Conditions Applied to the Student Representatives Council Elections

The Student Representatives Council (ÖTK) elections, which was postponed by The Higher Education Institution (YÖK) on October 17th, 2018, will be held from now until December. The new regulation was published in the Official Gazette on June 13th, 2019 and entered into force immediately.

The new condition for candidacy: To not being involved in or affiliated with terrorism!

According to the regulation enacted in 2005, the conditions required to be a candidate for student representation were as follows:

-being enrolled in the related faculty/unit,
-not being a member of or working in a political party,
-not having committed a disgraceful crime requiring suspension from university,
-not the enrollment being frozen in the relevant term.

According to the new regulation numbered 31154, a new condition was added requiring a student representative candidate: “To not be involved in or affiliated with terrorist organizations”. 

The Controversial Concept of “Affiliation” has entered our lives with State Of Emergency Decree Laws (KHK).

The expression “being affiliated with terrorist organizations” stated in the new regulation entered the legal language and our lives for the first time with the decree laws issued during the state of emergency. The concept and its explanation have been criticized by lawyers and law organizations for being “ambiguous” since it was first presented. The Constitutional Court has also made assessments regarding the law’s vagueness.

Jurists* state that the term “affiliation” -unlike the word contact- violates the principle of “legality in crime and penalty” and that it has an ambiguous and broad framework. On the other hand, the Constitutional Court (AYM) states that: “İltisaklı [affiliation] means “united”, adjoint; whereas irtibatlı [liaison]  means related” in one of its decisions. “Although the above mentioned concepts are general concepts, they cannot be said to be uncertain and unpredictable. The legal nature and objective meaning of these concepts can be determined by judicial jurisprudence.”

In another decision, the AYM made the following explanation regarding the ambiguity of the expression “affiliation”: “Although the act of being in union of action with terrorist organizations will be determined by the administration based on the law according to the concrete case, the final scope of this act will be determined by the judicial bodies.” This decision was criticized on grounds that  it would lead to the disregard of rights violations and uncertain control.

Candidate students will be asked to provide a criminal record check

In the previous regulation, the condition of “not having committed a disgraceful crime that requires suspension from higher education institutions” was also aggravated to “not having been convicted of a disgraceful crime, or not being received any disciplinary penalty with the exception of formal warnings”. With these amendments to the regulation, which already includes anti-democratic conditions, it will be possible to prevent students from being candidates. For instance, a student can now be barred from candidacy if they had previously participated in a students’ gathering [which is an exercise of the constitutional right to assembly but stigmatized by the administration]. 

We can be a member of Parliament but we can not be a student representative

According to the new regulation, in order to be a student presidential candidate, the grade point average must be at least 2.75 out of 4 or 70 out of 100. Another amendment in the new regulation is that candidates must be at least in their 2nd year. With the recent constitutional amendment, the age of being elected as a deputy  was reduced to eighteen. According to the new regulation, an 18-year-old young person can be elected as a deputy, but they cannot be a candidate for student representative or student council president.

* There are critiques written on the issue of how and why the ” affiliation” is a controversial concept. Here are two articles focusing on the ambiguity of the legal framework: https://www.gazeteduvar.com.tr/forum/2020/02/25/muphem-bir-ihrac-gerekcesi-iltisak/ & https://kronos34.news/tr/taha-akyolun-cok-onemli-dedigi-aym-karari-gercekten-oyle-mi/