Document from Technical University

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The document given to me when I was in the Technical University of Istanbul. This document shows that I attended school during daytime. Because there is also the option of studying at night in the universities. Every student also had to take what was called the university exam after graduation in order to be able to attend a university. Students who failed this exam had to enlist in the military. I wanted to attend ITU [Istanbul Technical University- it is the best engineering school in the country]. ITU accepted its students after only one test, but only the elite or really successful students, who came first, second or third in their class, generally made the cut. Because of the graduation exam, I forgot about ITU and began studying for this test. I received 8 out of 10, and finally graduated from high school. As for the ITU exam, I was not sufficiently prepared, but I did take the test anyway. During the exam, I began to doze off. A person, whom I found out later to be a professor, told me "Do what you can, we will see what happens after the test." What he told me made me realize the seriousness of the situation. I began answering the questions with all my power. The result was not too positive. I could not get into ITU, so I began attending another technical university that was recently founded. One day, I read in the newspaper that ITU was currently accepting students that were previously waitlisted. And, my name was on that list. My mother wanted me to become a doctor because there were many doctors in our family, but I knew I wanted to be an engineer. Mathematics came easily to me… I was very happy while studying engineering, and I have always liked what I did for a living. I had the opportunity to form wonderful friendships at ITU. Suleyman Demirel [9]and Necmettin Erbakan [10] were both my classmates there. An important feature of the educational program in those years was that our faculty contained both Architecture and Civil Engineering students. Today, both fields are distinct, but back then, we had the opportunity to graduate with two different degrees, as stated on our diplomas. Students attending universities also had to take a mandatory course pertaining to the military. The Architecture and Civil Engineering faculty took this class together with the faculties of Literature and Fine Arts in an amphitheatre. An army officer taught this class. When I was a sophomore in college, the officer in question began teaching us the Wealth Tax. [11] What I remember was that he was not teaching the subject in an objective manner, but he rather added his own subjective views. He would say "The Wealth Tax had to be implemented to save us from the non-Muslims. They nearly robbed us of all our businesses. Now we will have a chance to see what they can do without any capital." When they heard this, all of my classmates began looking at me - wondering if and how I would respond. I remember smiling back at them in extreme sorrow because my family had personally been affected by the taxes as well. But, I believe that if there is one thing a person should not lose - no matter what - that is his honor and dignity. I went to the professor's office to thank him for the grade, but I could not help but ask him "If you were going to give me a full mark for the question, why did you ask me to leave the classroom?" He responded "You are as lazy as they get, but you are smart, and this is why you were able to figure out the answer to the question. Not only that, but you managed to come up with a simpler explanation than the one I had provided before. No professor would want to cheat from one of his students." That was how I decided to continue my education. By the time I was a senior, however, anti-Semitic events at school had significantly increased. That year, all seniors had to participate in a graduation project called the diploma project. For this purpose, a German professor was brought to ITU to help the students. They gave us a project about a hotel. The project was expected to be beneficial to passengers arriving to and leaving from the Yesilkoy airport. After I completed a 3-4 page paper, I presented it to my professors. They looked through everyone's project, and separated mine from the others. One of them told me "If you would, can we please put your project up on the board so that your classmates could benefit from your insights?" I was extremely happy, but later on, I found that I had failed. The professors had failed two more students like me; one of them was Russian, and the other was a Jew living in Izmir. We all wanted to resubmit our project, but the situation was getting worse. We realized the professors were determined to fail us. Therefore, we decided to take the problem as far as the Minister of Education at the time, Hasan Ali Yucel. He was both a customer and a good friend of my father's. After hearing us out, he had to put in a good word on behalf of us to the university professors. Only then, were we allowed to graduate.

Interview details

Interviewee: Albert Arditi
Feride Petilon
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Istanbul, Turkey


Albert Arditi
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