ODTÜ students hold graduation ceremony despite all obstacles

In defiance of the rector, students of Ankara's prestigious ODTÜ on Aug. 6 held an alternative graduation ceremony at the Devrim (Revolution) Stadium.

Students hold a banner reading 'We need to be honest my brother! Inflation is the reason; interest [rate] is the result. No one did anything to the dinosaur.'

Duvar English

Students of Ankara's prestigious Middle East Technical University (ODTÜ) on Aug. 6 held an alternative graduation ceremony at the Devrim (Revolution) Stadium despite the ban of the rector.

Main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu shared a live video of the ceremony on his Twitter account and wrote: “This celebration is your right.”

Last month, ODTÜ rector's office announced that this year's graduation ceremony would not be held at its usual location, the Devrim Stadium “on the grounds of security.” Afterwards, ODTÜ students said that they would defy the rector's decision and organize an alternative graduation ceremony at the renowned stadium on Aug. 6.

The rector's office eventually acknowledged the alternative ceremony and sent an email to all of the students saying that no one would be allowed to visit the campus except the “first-degree family members" on Aug. 5. 

Kılıçdardoğlu said that this new measure was taken to stop him from going to the campus on the day. “Students will tomorrow [on Aug. 6] celebrate their graduation at Devrim Stadium at ODTÜ; that is good. The rector's office has brought the restriction of 'first-degree family members' to those visiting the campus. They think that they are adopting a Mr. Kemal precaution,” Kılıçdaroğlu tweeted on Aug. 5, saying that he will not attempt to go to the campus for the ceremony.

ODTÜ's graduation ceremonies are known with newly grads giving various messages about social issues with banners. In 2019, during the last official graduation ceremony held at the stadium, ODTÜ students' banners about the decisive victory of Istanbul Mayor Ekrem İmamoğlu had left a mark on the ceremony. Since then, the rector's office has canceled the ceremony at Devrim Stadium citing the COVID-19 pandemic.

The stadium is known as “Devrim” because some students in 1971 inscribed the word in giant letters with bleachers on its stands. The tradition was repeated annually during the university spring festival until recently. But not only it is still there, it has named the stadium and it is ODTÜ's unofficial motto.