On the campus of the most liberal University in Turkey putting 1st of May posters is forbidden.
Sabanci University is famous for adopting its statement of Academic Freedom. The statement is full of nicely written words expressing deep commitment of the University to independence of research, freedom of expression and other similar values. One can trace them in this statement: the Board of Trustees, faculty and administration of Sabancı University jointly take responsibility for assuring fullest protection of freedom of inquiry, thought, and expression.
In the last days students of Sabanci University displayed a couple of the 1st of May posters around the campus. The posters were printed by the BDP party. The message of the poster was just to inform students about 1st of May demonstration to be held on Taksim Square. In the bottom left corner of the posters the logo of BDP was barely visible.
For the University staff to remove all the posters was a matter of not even one hour. Students then applied for formal approval for the posters. It took the University administration two days to figure out what to do with the application.
Finally on Friday official response arrived denying the possibility for posters to be displayed. The argument presented was that "you can not make an announcement which targets only a particular class, religion, race or nationality" ("yalnız belli bir zümreyi, dini, ırkı veya milliyeti hedefleyen" duyuruların yapılmamasıdır). In the following paragraph the administration did not hesitate to warn students that this kind of activity may end up with their expulsion from the University.
It seems that in the minds of the University's officials to join the May 1st celebrations is dangerous and will cause problems on Sabanci campus. Interestingly, the University claims to filter all posters on campus and approve only some for the wellbeing of academic freedom and expression.
One could not expect to find the language of exclusion and discrimination practices in the University which is regularly praised as the most liberal in Turkey.
The case of the 1st of May posters is specially striking with comparison to other practices of the University. The entrance to parliament of Bilal Macit (Sabanci University's alumni) as a member of AK party was widely announced among the students. The intention of the University was to show a great example to follow. The message is clear: 1st of May is banned, becoming AKP parliamentarian is praised.
* Macin Starzewski, Sabancı University Turkish Studies - Emre Sahin, Sabancı University Cultural Studies Master Programme