Izmir University of Economics (IUE) administration announced the upcoming exams. University administration stated that the students will be required to keep their webcams and microphones on during the online exams, and that the students will not be allowed to go back to the previous questions during the exam. The administration also announced that students who do not have sufficient equipment and infrastructure can apply to the available educational institutions in their city to take the exams.
Following these statements, Izmir University of Economics students launched a social media campaign and started expressing their demands under the hashtag #IEUogrencininyanindaol (IUE administration should stand by the students) about the rules to be applied in the exams. As a part of the campaign, IUE students shot a video in which they called out to the administration.
We, as Civic Space Studies Association, interviewed IUE students about the campaign they organized.
First we asked IUE students how they organized the campaign. IUE students stated that they first started to work with the WhatsApp groups of different departments of the university during the campaign, then they established a joint WhatsApp group for Twitter. Underlining the attention campaign has received on Twitter, the students added: “Our friends who were active in the Student Union reached us on Twitter and a technical team was established in WhatsApp immediately. Then, we launched hashtags for 3-4 days. “
IUE students mentioned that the university administration only responded to the applications submitted to the Presidency Communication Center (CİMER) and the administration insisted that their decision was appropriate.
We asked IUE students about the attitude of their fellow students and their lecturers during the campaign. Stating that they have friends who have recently joined the campaign, the students said that an active participation could not be achieved due to the anxiety among the students. IUE students made the following statement about the members of faculty: “Some of our professors do not want to use the camera system. The school said it was an obligation. There is a contradiction here.”
We asked the students how they prepared the video they shared as part of the social media campaign. IUE students thanked the Student Union for their solidarity: “Actually a friend of ours who studies in the media department gave us the idea. However, our friends from other universities in the Student Union have already prepared such videos with similar complaints and demands. We thank the Student Union again for not leaving us alone.”
Finally, we asked IUE students about their demands for exams. Underlining their demand for “equality”, the group said that they want to be subjected to equal treatment in exams: “The obligation of cameras and microphones to be used in exams breaches the principle of privacy as it reveals one’s financial situation. If transparency of exams and not cheating in exams is important, this can be achieved easily with the homework system. We think that the principle of privacy is superior to any principle, even if it is difficult to realize.“
The students, who suggested that it would be unfair not to be allowed to go back to previous questions during the exam, said that they were forced to bear the consequences of the lack of infrastructure: “… there was a severe earthquake in our city. Consequently, our infrastructure is still not very stable. Despite this, students who are disconnected during the exam could be considered that to be cheating.”
IUE students said that the university should compromise. The students are discontented by the fact that the administration remained silent about the issue. Students claimed that their friends were deliberately counted as failed in the exams. IUE students demand that the university administration make a statement on this issue and find a way that will put the students at ease. Stating that despite the difficulties they faced, there was a strong solidarity during this campaign, IUE students continued as follows: “Many politicians, media organizations, non-governmental organizations and associations and unions supported us on Twitter. We thank them again here. It is precious what they do.“