Women and LGBTI+ people were the ones who experienced the deadlocks of the housing crisis most deeply among university students. Even though we have partial autonomy at the university after leaving the family home, our housing problems continue.
The cost of the economic crisis continues to fall on university students. University students are preparing to start the new semester with price increases for dormitories, abonnements, and cafeterias. The number of students who cannot continue their university education due to financial difficulties is increasing every year. As a matter of fact, accessing free, qualified, and scientific education is our most fundamental right. For those who do not even have a bed to sleep in right now, there is no other way left other than fighting against attacks on our rights.
That is not a new attack on university students deprived of their most fundamental right to housing. The housing crisis, which grows like an avalanche yearly, confronted university students earlier with the evacuation of dormitories in the middle of the semester. Following the February 6 earthquake, it was decided to evacuate KYK dormitories to accommodate earthquake victims. While there were hundreds of hotels where earthquake victims could be accommodated, many empty residences belonging to real estate monopolies and public guesthouses, the uncomfortable dormitories with bunk beds, where even university students could barely fit, were evacuated. While the government solved the housing problem to benefit capital, university students were left to their fate. Following this decision, university students found their belongings in black garbage bags in front of their dormitory doors in the middle of the night.
As university students, the current dormitory problem is not unexpected for us. Three years ago, university students spent the night in parks, on benches, and stairs due to insufficient dormitory capacity. Then, as a solution to the inadequate dormitory capacity, they were forced to stay in rooms that became jam-packed, with the number of bunk beds increasing. The housing crisis has been on our top agenda for a while now, with examples that are not that old.
We were hastily evicted from the dormitories
We saw an example very recently in Boğaziçi University dormitories. We were hastily evicted from the dormitories, which should have been inspected long ago because they were not earthquake-resistant. In Istanbul, a city where the cost of living is constantly high, students are not in a financial position to afford exorbitant housing prices, and once again, we, the university students, are the ones who are overlooked.
University students have difficulty sustaining their lives under neoliberal policies such as futurelessness, indebtedness, and impoverishment. Our social lives were severely limited by the reactionary, oppressive, and prohibitive practices of the government in every area. Finally, the trustees appointed to maintain control over the universities have been suppressing club activities for a while. Most recently, they tried to solve the housing crisis by evacuating club rooms. While they are usurping our right to quality housing, they are also trying to intervene in our social lives by evacuating club rooms.
In universities, one of the places where university students can raise their demands for their rights, they are trying to put obstacles in our way with the cooperation of the government, trustees, and ÖGB. Today, the high cost of living affects university students the most. We are forced to work while studying because the scholarships we receive do not meet our basic needs. University students with difficulty continuing their education due to the economic crisis either suspend their studies or drop out.
Housing crisis for women and LGBTI+ people
Women and LGBTI+ people were the ones who experienced the deadlocks of the housing crisis most deeply among university students. Even though we have partial autonomy at the university after leaving the family home, our housing problems continue. Finding a safe space and sheltering there has always been one of the biggest crises for women and LGBTI+ people, whose families are phoned when they are late for the dormitory and exposed to homophobia and transphobia in their accommodation.
While hundreds of women and LGBTI+ people have to leave their shelters or are directly expelled due to harassment and psychological violence by the dormitory management, real estate agents, and landlords, we are the most deeply affected by the housing crisis.
As a result of all these forms of violence, sheltering in a safe area as the right to quality housing is of additional importance for us. Therefore, women and LGBTI+ people with housing problems are trying to solve this problem individually by building solidarity. In the current order, where university students have to study and work due to impoverishment policies, women and LGBTI+ people are also subjected to harassment and mobbing in the places where they work. The impact of the government’s impoverishment policy on women and LGBTI+ people is more severe. These policies, implemented gradually, derive their power from patriarchal capitalism. By not giving up on their most basic rights, women and queer university students continue to be the most persistent segment of the struggle against patriarchal capitalism, which tries to force us into unqualified housing and insecure working conditions.
We know best how much the housing crisis affects our lives and the difficulty we experience in the family home where patriarchy wants to send us off again. While the crises are so obvious, keeping this on the agenda and knowing that what we are experiencing this not because we are some “X” individual but because we are woman/queer university students makes us create a different compathy by creating solidarity against the attacks on us and other women and queers. When we discuss problems and develop solutions together, this becomes a struggle about the housing crisis and a battle against the domination that patriarchal capitalism is trying to establish over our lives. We draw our strength from each other as we fight with the belief and courage to stand together against those who attack our rights, lives, and social spaces and to grow solidarity in every field we are in.