On July 12th 2020, it was reported on social media that a psychology department will be opened within the scope of the open and distant education program at Istanbul University. When the rumour was confirmed, psychologists and psychology students reacted on social media.
On July 13th, the Turkish Psychological Association published a press release entitled “Psychology can not be taught with open education”. The association also called on psychology students and academics, together with all individuals and institutions working in the field of psychology, to fight against this decision. Followingthis call, a social media campaign began with the hashtag #PsikolojideAçıkÖğretimOlamaz*.
Professional organizations and psychologists working in the field explained that this decision poses a threat to public health, that psychology is not a suitable field for training through open education, and can only be taught in a classroom based on the interaction between academics and students. Starting from the day this decision was confirmed many students, especially psychology students, effectively used social media to explain why psychology cannot be included in the scope of open education. They demanded that the decision be withdrawn.
Anger, Joy and Determination of the Students
Psychology students, student clubs and societies working in the field of psychology also joined the call to protest. The students added phrases such as “Formal Psychologist” and “graduated” next to their usernames on social media. The students used humour to describe how it would be if the students were trained through open education and gave counseling. Student clubs issued leaflets demanding that the decision be withdrawn and urged everyone to voice the demands of psychology students. The academics prepared a sample petition to be submitted to the relevant authorities and called on all psychology departments to be signatories.
We Are Not Your Agony Aunt, We Are Psychologists
While the social media campaign continued, the students and academics held protests and press releases with the participation of professional associations in front of Istanbul University on July 16th, 2020. The protestors maintained social distance. The students carried banners saying: “We are not Agony Aunts,we are psychologists”, “Psychology cannot be taught through open education”. They also stated; “ Our labour to produce knowledge is being trashe. We cannot get along with rectors who make profits! Psychology education cannot be taken out of formal education. Knowledge cannot be produced for society by solving tests on the computer.”
The students demanded the enactment of the occupational law and the improvement of the content of training, especially the applied courses, and protested the decision of the psychology department to be included in open education.
The students won: “There is a decision from YÖK”
During the protests, the students carried a banner that read “There comes a decision from YÖK.” The banner satirized the authoritarian practices of the Higher Council of Education, by making a pun with a quote by Erdoğan, who once stated “There comes a decision from the skies (gök).”
The protests and joint struggle carried out on social media and on the street ended successfully. According to the statement by Presidential Head of Communications Fahrettin Altun on Twitter, President Erdoğan stated that he was displeased by YÖK’s decision to introduce psychology in an open education program. In spite of the achievement, the “lack of democratic mechanisms” that led to this erroneous decision still persists.
The Struggle Continues: “Let the Occupational Law be Enacted!
One of the main problems of psychologists and psychology students is that there is no occupational law in this field. Therefore, the rights of people and professional organizations working in this field cannot be defined and protected, and frauds are prevalent. Psychologists and psychology students, who have achieved significant gains in the field of psychology in the past twenty-five days, remind us of the lack of occupational law and say “Let us continue our struggle”.