What Supporters Are Saying

First Amendment Violations

  • “I will not rehearse for you the reasons why this firing is an outrage to anyone who cares about academic freedom or simple human decency. I’m sure you will already see them very clearly for yourselves. Professor Salaita spoke up privately, in his capacity as a citizen, against what history will surely agree (everyone outside the United States already does) was a massacre of the innocents in Gaza. In punishing him for speaking up by taking away his job, Chancellor Wise has inscribed her name in a shameful list that includes Joseph McCarthy, among others.” Bruce Robbins, Old Dominion Foundation Professor in the Humanities, Columbia University

 

  • “I have reviewed a large number of tweets sent by Professor Salaita during recent weeks. While I understand that they are partisan and angry messages—and therefore may be considered controversial—I do not agree that anything written there warrants firing or rescinding an offer that was already promised. Indeed, if academic freedom and the rightto free speech do not guarantee controversial and offensive political expression—and especially expression outside the classroom—what are they good for?” Michael Rothberg, Professor and Head of the Department of English, Director of the Initiative in Holocaust, Genocide, and Memory Studies, UIUC

 

  • “[A]ny attempt by university officials to repress or penalize speech on a matter of public concern such as Israel/Palestine because of disagreement with its message is impermissible “viewpoint discrimination,” a serious First Amendment violation.” The Center for Constitutional Rights

 Academic Freedom

  • “The Illinois Conference Committee A on Academic Freedom and Tenure of the American Association of University Professors supports the honoring of the appointment of Steven G. Salaita in the American Indian Studies program at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Reports that the university has voided a job offer, if accurate, due to tweets on the Palestinian-Israeli conflict would be a clear violation of Professor Salaita’s academic freedom and an affront to free speech that we enjoy in this country… Professor Salaita’s words while strident and vulgar were an impassioned plea to end the violence currently taking place in the Middle East. Issues of life and death during bombardment educes significant emotions and expressions of concern that reflect the tragedy that armed conflict confers on its victims. Speech that is deemed controversial should be challenged with further speech that may abhor and challenge a statement. Yet the University of Illinois cannot cancel an appointment based upon Twitter statements that are protected speech in the United States of America.” llinois AAUP Committee A

 

  • “While opinions differ among AAUP members on a wide range of issues, the AAUP is united in its commitment to defend academic freedom and the free exchange of ideas more broadly. On the basis of this commitment we have opposed efforts by some pro-Palestinian groups to endorse an “academic boycott” of Israel. This commitment has also led us to defend the rights of critics of Israel, including the right of faculty members such as Professor Salaita, to express their views without fear of retaliation, even where such views are expressed in a manner that others might find offensive or repugnant…. Moreover, the AAUP has long objected to using criteria of civility and collegiality in faculty evaluation because we view this as a threat to academic freedom. It stands to reason that this objection should extend as well to decisions about hiring, especially about hiring to a tenured position.” Rudy Fichtenbaum, President, AAUP, Henry Reichman, First Vice-President and Chair, Committee A on Academic Freedom and Tenure, AAUP

Faculty Governance Violations

  • “As the former elected chair of the Stanford University Faculty Senate, I am keenly interested in issues of governance and transparency…Among the many truly awful things this action has produced is that it has made everyone, everyone, deeply suspicious that our normal institutional practices are now held hostage to outside forces, forces that operate in the shadows, override due process, trump faculty input. Furthermore, and most destructively, they create a deadening, chilling effect on the very things we are supposed to be engaged in as educators—the free and open exchange of even unpopular ideas. They muzzle us at a time of urgent historical crisis.” David Palumbo-Liu, Louise Hewlett Nixon Professor, Stanford University

 

  • “I am concerned as well about the damage this decision is already doing to the reputation of the university and to our ability to hire top scholars. Indeed, a message has recently appeared on the Department of English Facebook page—in a comment to an advertised position in Creative Writing—that asks, “Why should any applicant trust that you will treat them fairly, given what your university [. . .] has done to Steven Salaita? In addition to my concern over the treatment of Professor Salaita—who has apparently had a job taken away from him and his professional reputation tarnished well beyond the moment when he could have kept his previous job—I am finally and especially concerned about what such a decision says about the administration’s relation to the faculty. That members of the upper administration would, with limited or no consultation, countermand the decision of numerous faculty members who voted for Professor Salaita in an approved university search and who voted for his tenure at various levels of the university strikes me as a very dangerous and disheartening precedent.” Michael Rothberg, Professor and Head of the Department of English, Director of the Initiative in Holocaust, Genocide, and Memory Studies, UIUC

 

  • “Nothing in Professor Salaita’s Twitter feed suggests a violation of professional ethics or disciplinary incompetence. The University of Illinois is therefore clearly in violation of a fundamental principle of academic freedom with regard to extramural speech; moreover, your decision effectively overrides legitimate faculty decision-making and peer review in a way that is inconsistent with AAUP guidelines regarding governance.” Michael Bérubé, director of the Institute for the Arts and Humanities at Pennsylvania State University