Filiz Gazi/ DUVAR
Three university students in Istanbul joined efforts to establish a student union as a way to better their odds for the future.
Aslı Altınok, a junior at Istanbul University and one of the three founders of a new potential student union, says that anxiety about the grim prospects of the future in a failing economy keeps Turkish college students up at night.
“We go through university and graduate thinking 'We're going to be unemployed for two years anyways,'” said Altınok. “This is where the politics in this country have brought us, so we felt the need to create a platform where we could come together to make ourselves understood.”
Within three days of callout, they received 130 replies from 25 different cities. Since Turkey's first student union Genç-Sen (Young-Union) was shut down by the government for not being in accordance with legislation, some of their first applicants changed their minds about joining.
Turkey requires union members to have insurance from the Social Security Institution (SGK), which is usually not granted to freelance jobs. But Altınok says they didn't want this legal barrier to stand in the way of any new members.
“Some people wrote to us after their initial reply and said they were worried their union membership would be a disadvantage to them in the public official selection exams (KPSS) and wanted to withdraw their application,” said Altınok.
“I work as a waitress and a tutor but I don't have SGK. There are more people out there without SGK, but who still want to fight with us,” said Altınok, adding that their door is open to everyone.