Updated: Wise explains Salaita decision, gets support from trustees

Updated: Wise explains Salaita decision, gets support from trustees

Updated 2:45 p.m.

URBANA — In her first public statement about Professor Steven Salaita, University of Illinois Chancellor Phyllis Wise said her decision to not forward his appointment to trustees for formal approval was not influenced by his criticism of Israel.

The university, she said, cannot tolerate “personal and disrespectful words or actions that demean and abuse either viewpoints themselves or those who express them.”

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“We have a particular duty to our students to ensure that they live in a community of scholarship that challenges their assumptions about the world but that also respects their rights as individuals. A Jewish student, a Palestinian student, or any student of any faith or background must feel confident that personal views can be expressed and that philosophical disagreements with a faculty member can be debated in a civil, thoughtful and mutually respectful manner. Most important, every student must know that every instructor recognizes and values that student as a human being. If we have lost that, we have lost much more than our standing as a world-class institution of higher education,” Wise sent in a mass e-mail to the campus community Friday afternoon.

UI President Robert Easter, senior administrators, the Board of Trustees and the head of the University Senates Conference issued a statement of "unwavering support" for Wise Friday afternoon.

Wise's statement comes on the Friday before the start of the 2014-2015 school year. Salaita accepted an offer to teach at the UI in October and was expected to officially become a UI employee on Aug. 16, when the academic school year kicks off. On Aug. 1, Wise and Vice President for Academic Affairs Christophe Pierre informed Salaita that his appointment would not be forwarded to trustees for formal approval after conservative bloggers criticized Salaita’s angry tweets about Israel’s invasion of Gaza.

Since then, pressure from the academic community has been mounting. More than 15,000 people signed a petition on change.org demanding Chancellor Wise reinstate Salaita. A range of other petitions have been circulating, including one signed by over 2,000 scholars in which they pledged to boycott speaking at any conferences or public events at the university due to Salaita’s treatment. Earlier this week University of Delaware professor David Blacker cancelled a talk he was to deliver about universal education later this month as part of the UI’s Miller/Com lecture series. The UI’s Education Justice Project also canceled an upcoming conference, “Strategies for Action National Conference on Higher Education in Prison.” The Illinois AAUP also has criticized the university’s action and said it stood by Salaita’s “right to engage in extramural utterances.”

In Easter's statement Friday, he said the university community "values civility as much as scholarship."

"Disrespectful and demeaning speech that promotes malice is not an acceptable form of civil argument if we wish to ensure that students, faculty and staff are comfortable in a place of scholarship and education. If we educate a generation of students to believe otherwise, we will have jeopardized the very system that so many have made such great sacrifices to defend.  There can be no place for that in our democracy, and therefore, there will be no place for it in our university," the statement said.

Salaita, formerly a professor at Virginia Tech, is the author of books on several different topics, from Arab American fiction to “Israel’s Dead Soul,” a criticism of Zionism. He was offered a tenured faculty position in the UI’s American Indian Studies Program in October. His salary was to be $85,000.

Salaita has been outspoken in support of Palestinians in essays and on social media. Since the Israel invasion of Gaza, his online rhetoric has drawn some criticism. In July he tweeted, “(Expletive) you, #Israel. And while I’m at it, (expletive) you, too, PA, Sisi, Arab monarchs, Obama, UK, EU, Canada, US Senate, corporate media, and ISIS.” About the Israeli prime minister, he tweeted: “At this point, if Netanyahu appeared on TV with a necklace made from the teeth of Palestinian children, would anybody be surprised? #Gaza”

Back in July spokeswoman Robin Kaler said faculty have a wide range of scholarly and political views, “and we recognize the freedom of speech rights of all of our employees.”

University officials have refused comment since the Aug. 1 letter.

 

Here is Wise’s statement in full:

Dear Colleagues:

As you may be aware, Vice President Christophe Pierre and I wrote to Prof. Steven Salaita on Aug. 1, informing him of the university’s decision not to recommend further action by the Board of Trustees concerning his potential appointment to the faculty of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Since this decision, many of you have expressed your concern about its potential impact on academic freedom. I want to assure you in the strongest possible terms that all of us — my administration, the university administration and I — absolutely are committed to this bedrock principle. I began my career as a scientist challenging accepted ideas and pre-conceived notions, and I have continued during my career to invite and encourage such debates in all aspects of university life.

A pre-eminent university must always be a home for difficult discussions and for the teaching of diverse ideas. One of our core missions is to welcome and encourage differing perspectives. Robust – and even intense and provocative – debate and disagreement are deeply valued and critical to the success of our university.

As a university community, we also are committed to creating a welcoming environment for faculty and students alike to explore the most difficult, contentious and complex issues facing our society today. Our Inclusive Illinois initiative is based on the premise that education is a process that starts with our collective willingness to search for answers together – learning from each other in a respectful way that supports a diversity of worldviews, histories and cultural knowledge.

The decision regarding Prof. Salaita was not influenced in any way by his positions on the conflict in the Middle East nor his criticism of Israel. Our university is home to a wide diversity of opinions on issues of politics and foreign policy. Some of our faculty are critical of Israel, while others are strong supporters. These debates make us stronger as an institution and force advocates of all viewpoints to confront the arguments and perspectives offered by others. We are a university built on precisely this type of dialogue, discourse and debate.

What we cannot and will not tolerate at the University of Illinois are personal and disrespectful words or actions that demean and abuse either viewpoints themselves or those who express them. We have a particular duty to our students to ensure that they live in a community of scholarship that challenges their assumptions about the world but that also respects their rights as individuals.

As chancellor, it is my responsibility to ensure that all perspectives are welcome and that our discourse, regardless of subject matter or viewpoint, allows new concepts and differing points of view to be discussed in and outside the classroom in a scholarly, civil and productive manner.

A Jewish student, a Palestinian student, or any student of any faith or background must feel confident that personal views can be expressed and that philosophical disagreements with a faculty member can be debated in a civil, thoughtful and mutually respectful manner. Most important, every student must know that every instructor recognizes and values that student as a human being. If we have lost that, we have lost much more than our standing as a world-class institution of higher education.

As a member of the faculty, I firmly believe that a tenured faculty position at the University of Illinois is a tremendous honor and a unique privilege. Tenure also brings with it a heavy responsibility to continue the traditions of scholarship and civility upon which our university is built.

I am committed to working closely with you to identify how the campus administration can support our collective duty to inspire and facilitate thoughtful consideration of diverse opinions and discourse on challenging issues.

Sincerely,

Phyllis M. Wise

Chancellor

 

 Here is the full statement from Easter and other top UI officials:

Earlier today, you received a thoughtful statement from Chancellor Phyllis Wise regarding the university’s decision not to recommend Prof. Steven Salaita for a tenured faculty position on the Urbana-Champaign campus.  

In her statement, Chancellor Wise reaffirmed her commitment to academic freedom and to fostering an environment that encourages diverging opinions, robust debate and challenging conventional norms. Those principles have been at the heart of the university’s mission for nearly 150 years, and have fueled its rise as a world leader in education and innovation.

But, as she noted, our excellence is also rooted in another guiding principle that is just as fundamental. Our campuses must be safe harbors where students and faculty from all backgrounds and cultures feel valued, respected and comfortable expressing their views.

We agree, and write today to add our collective and unwavering support of Chancellor Wise and her philosophy of academic freedom and free speech tempered in respect for human rights – these are the same core values which have guided this institution since its founding.

In the end, the University of Illinois will never be measured simply by the number of world-changing engineers, thoughtful philosophers or great artists we produce.  We also have a responsibility to develop productive citizens of our democracy.  As a nation, we are only as strong as the next generation of participants in the public sphere.  The University of Illinois must shape men and women who will contribute as citizens in a diverse and multi-cultural democracy.  To succeed in this mission, we must constantly reinforce our expectation of a university community that values civility as much as scholarship.

Disrespectful and demeaning speech that promotes malice is not an acceptable form of civil argument if we wish to ensure that students, faculty and staff are comfortable in a place of scholarship and education. If we educate a generation of students to believe otherwise, we will have jeopardized the very system that so many have made such great sacrifices to defend.  There can be no place for that in our democracy, and therefore, there will be no place for it in our university.

Chancellor Wise is an outstanding administrator, leader and teacher.  Her academic career has been built on her commitment to promoting academic freedom and creating a welcoming environment for students and faculty alike.  We stand with her today and will be with her tomorrow as she devotes her considerable talent and energy to serving our students, our faculty and staff, and our society.

We look forward to working closely with Chancellor Wise and all of you to ensure that our university is recognized both for its commitment to academic freedom and as a national model of leading-edge scholarship framed in respect and courtesy.

 

Sincerely,

Christopher G. Kennedy, Chair, University of Illinois Board of Trustees

Robert A. Easter, President

Hannah Cave, Trustee
Ricardo Estrada, Trustee
Patrick J. Fitzgerald, Trustee
Lucas N. Frye, Trustee
Karen Hasara, Trustee
Patricia Brown Holmes, Trustee
Timothy N. Koritz, Trustee
Danielle M. Leibowitz, Trustee
Edward L. McMillan, Trustee
James D. Montgomery, Trustee
Pamela B. Strobel, Trustee

Paula Allen-Meares, Chancellor, Chicago campus, and Vice President, University of Illinois
Susan J. Koch, Chancellor, Springfield campus, and Vice President, University of Illinois

Donald A. Chambers, Professor of Physiology and Biochemistry; Chair, University Senates Conference

Jerry Bauman, Interim Vice President for Health Affairs
Thomas R. Bearrows, University Counsel
Thomas P. Hardy, Executive Director for University Relations
Susan M. Kies, Secretary of the Board of Trustees and the University
Walter K. Knorr, VP/Chief Financial Officer and Comptroller
Christophe Pierre, Vice President for Academic Affairs
Lawrence B. Schook, Vice President for Research
Lester H. McKeever, Jr., Treasurer, Board of Trustees

 

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Fretboy wrote on August 22, 2014 at 3:08 pm

"Disrespectful and demeaning speech that promotes malice is not an acceptable form of civil argument"

If this one value can be instilled into students, the U of I will have done more to better the world than any other institution in the nation.

reallypeople wrote on August 22, 2014 at 4:08 pm

"Disrespectful and demeaning speech that promotes malice is not an acceptable form of civil argument if we wish to ensure that students, faculty and staff are comfortable in a place of scholarship and education.". 

If this is true, why were the students who published racist, hateful, PERSONAL attacks on Chancellor Wise on Twitter this past January allowed to stay at the university, without punishment?

It totally undermines their final statement that "there will be no place for it in our university."

Salaita did not publish any personal attacks in his Tweets.  He has stated his political opinions, which he has every right to do in a public forum.  

In addition, the very fact that people are reading his Tweets as anti-Semitic is proof that a hard conversation about Gaza needs to happen, both in public and in the classroom.  Critiquing Israel does not equate anti-Semitism.

Clearly, more than just the students at UIUC need Salaita on campus to engage them on this topic.

 

 

ROB McCOLLEY wrote on August 22, 2014 at 9:08 pm
Profile Picture

I thought it was an interesting usage of the word "Jewish," and I assume that the word was debated by a number of people over a period of time. I just wonder how many people debated its usage, and for how long.

 

Another point to consider: Sirhan Sirhan is Palestinian.

spangwurfelt wrote on August 23, 2014 at 12:08 pm

"Salaita did not publish any personal attacks in his Tweets."

Nah, just entire nations, while carefully pointing out that he wasn't distinguishing between the governments and citizens.

"Critiquing Israel does not equate anti-Semitism."

Neither does it magically preclude anti-Semitism.

rsp wrote on August 23, 2014 at 2:08 pm

He has tweets condemning anti-Semitism.

spangwurfelt wrote on August 25, 2014 at 7:08 am

So did Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. They alternated with his tweets promoting it.

Griz wrote on August 22, 2014 at 4:08 pm

I would think that the reason students were not held to the same standard as a tenure-track professor wannabe is obvious.  The vile attacks on Chancellor Wise were sickening and juvenile, and clearly crossed the line.  But Salaita's rantings were also juvenile and incredibly unprofessional, as well as personal and demeaning.  Wise did the right and courageous thing dropping him like a hot potato, and I pity anyone who holds himself or herself out as a scholar who is unable to discern the difference between controversial speech and vulgar ad hominem crap.

Finally, I wonder about the University's vetting process itself.  Even if Salaita were not a vicious foul-mouthed troll, what, exactly, does a Lebanese scholar whose work is focused on the Middle East bring to "American Indian Studies"?  Is it illogical to assume a scholar who is, you know, an American Indian, might be a better choice?  I would bet a small fortune that there are several highly-qualified Native American scholars who would bring a high level of scholarship and civility to this campus.  Or maybe they were planning on hiring Chief Illiniwek to lecture on the plight of the Palestinian people.

wayward wrote on August 22, 2014 at 6:08 pm

Professor Timothy Burke at Swarthmore makes some interesting points about UI's decision.

http://blogs.swarthmore.edu/burke/blog/2014/08/22/on-the-salaita-decision/

rsp wrote on August 23, 2014 at 9:08 am

Thanks for linking to that.

kiel wrote on August 23, 2014 at 4:08 pm

From this excellent link:

"The problem in your case is that neither the University of Illinois nor any of the proponents of your decision have presented any evidence that Professor Salaita would be or has been unable to adhere to those ethics. The only evidence is a handful of tweets that really say nothing about how he approaches the classroom, how he mentors students, how he participates in evaluation. The only evidence available about his teaching and professional demeanor is that he earned tenure at another institution and survived the scrutiny of your own faculty in a hiring process, which is far more powerful than four or five sentences on Twitter dubiously interpreted through a hostile and unfair gaze. I would frankly trust Professor Nelson less based on his recent statements in terms of these professional obligations than I would Professor Salaita."

 

Exactly. Thanks for posting.

OldIlliniFan wrote on August 22, 2014 at 6:08 pm

==Finally, I wonder about the University's vetting process itself.  Even if Salaita were not a vicious foul-mouthed troll, what, exactly, does a Lebanese scholar whose work is focused on the Middle East bring to "American Indian Studies"?  Is it illogical to assume a scholar who is, you know, an American Indian, might be a better choice?==

Good question.  Was the Dean on the ball here?  Something's fishy.

 

kjones wrote on August 22, 2014 at 11:08 pm

Dr. Salaita earned a PhD in Native American Literature and Palestinian and Arab American Literature from the University of Oklahoma in 2003. His personal cultural heritage is independent of his scholarship. Though Dr. Salaita could select his course of study, Native American Literature being one major emphasis, he could not select the country from which his parents originated. It is not logical to think that someone who is from any race will be an excellent scholar in issues regarding their own race. Though an individual may be the world's premier expert in their own life's experiences, that is not the same as being a scholar. Scholarship requires rigorous engagement with all aspects of a field and an examination of the social, political, economic, and other conditions that affect the field.
Higher education does not track people into fields that are pre-determined by their biological condition or ancestry. If so, I would only be permitted to study german immigration to the US at the beginning of the 20th century. Truth be told, I have little interest and minimal knowledge in that subject. I would be a horrible choice to fill a position that requires outstanding scholarship in that field even though I am the grand-daughter of German-American Immigrants.  

kiel wrote on August 23, 2014 at 4:08 pm

Precisely. The idea that someone can't be an expert on anything outside their own heritage is ludicrous and extremely offensive.

sweet caroline wrote on August 22, 2014 at 8:08 pm

I'm so confused trying to read such long drawn-out letters that never come right and say "yes, he can teach here" or "no, he can't teach here."  I'm judging by the comment section that he won't be teaching here.  Or is the decision still up in the air?

Rocky7 wrote on August 23, 2014 at 3:08 am

Chancellor Wise and President Easter have this one right and I applaud and support their statements.  They are clear and to the point.

And I agree with "oldIlliniFan" that the relevant Dean should have been more on the ball.  Perhaps s/he ought to be asked to resign or hand in his/her degee

Reykjavik wrote on August 23, 2014 at 8:08 am

Nobody is happy.  UIUC spends a lot of time and possibly money wriggling out of an offer, the department that was hiring him is deprived of apparently a really good scholar, and the candidate is embarrassed.  

The only dopey comment from above is "what, exactly, does a Lebanese scholar whose work is focused on the Middle East bring to "American Indian Studies"?"  Small-minded.  Lots of professors have multiple areas of expertise.  Check it out.

rsp wrote on August 23, 2014 at 10:08 am

How does the administration suggest one react to seeing images of dead children? A quiet polite discussion? "Could you please stop blowing up the schools until recess?" Isreal drops leaflets on buildings to let people know they are going to bomb that area. Would you know if one fell on your house? No? Then it must be your fault. If the target is next to you or you don't run fast enough, it's your fault. Gaza is 3-6 miles wide. Hamas is not the same organisation it as when it formed. And we are suppying the bombs that are killing babies. But let's be polite. No name calling, no swearing.

787 wrote on August 23, 2014 at 10:08 am

Whatever happened to getting a new job, and just "laying low" for a while?

Is that too difficult?  With some people, apparently it is.

reallypeople wrote on August 23, 2014 at 10:08 am

Well said, rsp.. 

Check out this blog post, also, to this end:

http://academeblog.org/2014/08/22/university-of-illinois-board-of-truste...

"A university that bans all “disrespect” and “malice,” even in extramural utterances unrelated to any academic activity, is no longer a free university worthy of its name. Of course, we all know that “malice” will be an arbitrarily-enforced standard. Anyone who falsely accuses Salaita of anti-Semitism and violence will be deemed free from “malice,” while Salaita’s criticism of a government’s bombing campaign that kills children is condemned as “malice” by the Board without any need of a hearing, evidence, argument, or discussion. The Board of Trustees does not define what “malice” is, but apparently its members know it when they feel uncomfortable.

Here’s what should make the Board of Trustees uncomfortable: a university that fires a professor for his political opinions, without the slightest regard for his scholarship or his teaching; a university that cares more about respect and comfort than freedom and debate; and a university run by people who know so little about academic freedom that they repeatedly invoke the concept while they fundamentally betray it."

spangwurfelt wrote on August 23, 2014 at 12:08 pm

"a university that fires a professor for his political opinions"

An assertion not borne out by the article above. If it really were about his political opinions, I'd understand why everyone is so worked up. But the evidence isn't there. I think any college would be reluctant to hire anyone whose basic stance, like Salaita's, is "F*** anyone who disagrees with me, go crawl in a hole and die," no matter what the disagreement is about.

But it's more fun to wave a bloody shirt about "zomg political censorship" than it is about "zomg what a flipping ***hole this guy is."

rsp wrote on August 23, 2014 at 2:08 pm

All of his teaching evaluations are excellent so it couldn't be that. He's a tenured professor, so he's obviously qualified. He's the author of 6 books, as well as published articles elsewhere. So a good body of scholarship. And they knew all this before they hired him. But then someone complained. A political website. Political.

spangwurfelt wrote on August 25, 2014 at 7:08 am

If he's such an excellent teacher, why doesn't Virginia Tech - the campus that knows him best - want him back?

slimkidtrey wrote on August 24, 2014 at 1:08 pm

The university administration’s claim that “The decision regarding Prof. Salaita was not influenced in any way by his positions on the conflict in the Middle East nor his criticism of Israel” is highly unconvincing.  The idea that the decision was based instead solely on Salaita’s lack of “civility” is similarly unpersuasive.  On the one hand, I don’t doubt that Professor Salaita would still have a job if he had expressed the same basic political views in a more measured and respectful fashion.

However, I am absolutely certain that if he had used the same tone in criticizing a “safer target,” Professor Salaita’s position at the university would never have come into question.  For example, if he had regularly posted angry anti-Putin tweets like “Putin is an (expletive) and the blood of the passengers of Air Malaysia Flight 17 is on his hands,” Salaita would undoubtedly be starting class here on Monday.  As such, it seems hard to deny that Professor Salaita was denied a job at this university because he expressed unpopular political views. 

Thus, I find it highly disingenuous when the University administration rationalizes the Salaita decision by framing it as part of an effort to cultivate an “atmosphere for learning” that creates citizens who will contribute to a “diverse and multi-cultural democracy.”  I share those laudable ideals, so I don’t appreciate when they are used to justify political discrimination.

FungibleChairs wrote on August 23, 2014 at 11:08 am

I am disturbed and disheartened by the actions taken by Chancellor Wise and the trustees of the University of Illinois. Chancellor Wise's justification yesterday, and that of the Board of Trustees, was embarrassing for an institution as prestigious as the University of Illinois. 

I am alarmed by how quickly they have betrayed their committment to academic freedom and in so doing, have betrayed their faculty, and the students they claim to be protecting.

If the University of Illinois wants to justify the tuition that it charges its students and court large corporate and donor gifts, it needs to be a beacon for scholarship and academic freedom. And it needs to fiercly protect free speech if it is to remain an institution willing to engage with the difficult issues of the day, and create the breakthrough research and scholarship that will attract the best and brightest scholars and students from all backgrounds.

By firing Dr. Steven Salaita, the University has folded in the face of the political pressures of the day. It can no longer honestly tout its status as a world-class institution, and should admit to all of the scholars, students, and alumni who have dedicated hours of their time, resources, and talent to Illinois, that they have just been sold down the river. 

Every faculty member, student, and alumni of the University of Illinois, regardless of their political beliefs, should be furious that Chancellor Wise and the Board of Trustees has tarnished the value of employment at, and a degree from the University of Illinois. If we are to maintain and preserve a legacy and future of excellence at Illinois, we need to stand up and demand better of this institution. 

Lostinspace wrote on August 23, 2014 at 12:08 pm

Fumble, mumble, bumble.  Tumble?

spangwurfelt wrote on August 23, 2014 at 12:08 pm

"one signed by over 2,000 scholars in which they pledged to boycott speaking at any conferences or public events at the university due to Salaita’s treatment."

Of which 1,998 had no plan to come here anyway. But oh doesn't it feel good to proclaim your refusal to do what you had no intention to?

rsp wrote on August 24, 2014 at 7:08 pm

A four day conference was just cancelled with 47 speakers of which I think 9 are local. So you add in all the other people who were going to listen to the speakers. Where would all these people stay, eat, maybe spend money? They were making plans to do in here next year but maybe not after all. I'm sure there will be more conferences coming up to cancel that you haven't heard of either.

spangwurfelt wrote on August 25, 2014 at 7:08 am

If it's like most academic conferences, then having 47 speakers means that each talk has at most 46 in the audience, meaning the other speakers. 

increvable wrote on August 23, 2014 at 5:08 pm

"We agree, and write today to add our collective and unwavering support of Chancellor Wise and her philosophy of academic freedom and free speech tempered in respect for human rights..."

Academic freedom and free speech are already fatally compromised at the very point where you start tempering them for the sake of making others feel comfortable, which seems to me to be what the Board means by "human rights".

wayward wrote on August 24, 2014 at 7:08 am

Open letter from Michael Rothberg, UIUC English professor and director of the Initiative in Holocaust, Genocide, and Memory Studies.

http://academeblog.org/2014/08/20/antisemitism-and-salaita/

Also on his website at http://michaelrothberg.weebly.com/essays.html

rsp wrote on August 24, 2014 at 8:08 am

You would think they would have consulted someone like him except for the fact the "knew" what their opinion was without any facts. He writes a good letter!

I always think of twitter like poetry, some of it's good, a lot of it's bad. It doesn't always mean what you think it does. Sometimes you have to follow someone for a while to get to know them.

rsp wrote on August 24, 2014 at 7:08 am

http://www.ais.illinois.edu/news/current/noconfidence_wise_8.22.14.aspx

AIS faculty cast a vote of no confidence in Chancellor Wise

24 August 2014
Urbana, Champaign

At its annual retreat this afternoon, the faculty of the American Indian Studies program at the University of Illinois cast a vote of no confidence in UIUC Chancellor Phyllis Wise.

Tom Napier wrote on August 24, 2014 at 9:08 pm

 

"AIS faulty cast a vote of no-confdece in Chancellor Wise"

AIS praises Chancellor Wise for decisons wth which they agree. 

AIS condemns Chancellor Wise for decisions with which they disagree.

Why does this not surprise me?

Inconsistency -- to the point of hypocricy-- only damages their credibility and the validity of their arguement.

 

wayward wrote on August 25, 2014 at 7:08 am

Inside Higher Ed FOIA'd some emails related to this situation, and it appears that there may have been concerns related to fundraising and development.

https://www.insidehighered.com/news/2014/08/25/u-illinois-officials-defe...

Raising money is crucial for UI, especially in light of declining support from the state, but this still makes me uneasy.

Sid Saltfork wrote on August 25, 2014 at 12:08 pm

Money talks on campuses as it does in Congress.  Those with the money can dictate their view while those without the money must accept the view, and the propaganda that comes with it.  The university is willing to toe the line for the money from individuals who have dual nationality interests.  Evidently, there is to be no criticism of Israel tolerated.  Imagine the Koch brothers donating six figure amounts to the university.  The lofty ideals of academia seem to be a sham; at least at the U of I.  The U of I did not look the other way when aparteid happened in South Africa.  However; it looks the other way now when a country murders civilians including children.  It needs the money; and cannot afford to anger donors with dual nationality.

spangwurfelt wrote on August 25, 2014 at 12:08 pm

Sid has magical powers, apparently, in that he can determine that emails he hasn't read by people unidentified to him were written by those with "dual nationality," Quite a trick. Of course, if he doesn't have that power, he's issued a revolting race-tinged blanket smear, hasn't he.

Sid Saltfork wrote on August 26, 2014 at 7:08 am

Oh my...  I criticized Israel, and it's American-Israeli support.  By my doing that, spangwurfelt has labeled me as an anti-semite.  spangwurfelt get over it.  Many Americans are tired of funding a country other than their own which demonstrates atrocities that even the U.N. condems.  I criticize Israel for murdering civilians including children; and not allowing humanitarian aid to the living civilians.  Your playing the old card of accusing criticism of a country as being criticism of a faith.  "Quite a trick"  indeed.

spangwurfelt wrote on August 27, 2014 at 7:08 pm

It's the simplest point in the world, and it's amazing how people like Sid miss it, every fructosin' time.
Criticize Israel to your heart's content. But when you start throwing around the standard memes of antisemitism, like the "dual loyalties" charge, then your being "anti-Israel" won't magically protect you from having said something racist.
Once more: criticize Israel to your heart's content. *But* that criticism isn't an carte blanche to breathe new life into old antisemitic rhetoric.
Don't want to be accused of using racist rhetoric? Easy! Don't use it.

Sid Saltfork wrote on August 28, 2014 at 12:08 pm

Quite a few Americans hold dual-nationality; but only one group equates attacks on Israel as being "racist" in terms of faith.  Not all Jewish citizens follow the same illogical view.  Only those who blindly defend Israel's expansion, and justify the murder of civilians by the thousands as defending Israel follow the illogical view.   Criticism of Israel as a country is not criticism of a faith.  spangwurfelt's responses to the other commenters expresses his illogical view.  It is easier to denounce a critic as anti-semetic rather than deal with the truths resulting from Israel's actions.  spangwurfelt is playing the "racist" card; but prefers to be seen as the poor victim.  Race has nothing to do with faith.  There are African Jews, European Jews, American Jews, etc...  Their "race" has nothing to do with their faith.  Yet, spangwurfelt wants critics of Israel to be seen as "racist".  Perhaps, spangwurfelt uses the terms: Zionist, Israel, Jewish, and Race interchangeablely in his illogical defense of Israel's war crimes?  

spangwurfelt wrote on August 28, 2014 at 6:08 pm

Very darn clear about what a Jew is. Very darn clear about what a Zionist is. Very darn clear about what an Israeli is. If you had been a tenth as clear on the subject, you wouldn't now be trying to flail your way out of the hole you dug.

Sid Saltfork wrote on August 29, 2014 at 12:08 pm

Based on your comments, they are all the same.  Propagandize all you want.  You have already identified yourself based on your comments to me, and others.  A "dam" obstructs the flow of water.  You are obstructing criticism of Isarael even in tweets by the professor.  An honest discussion of Israel's actions over the years toward the Palestinians needs to be made.

spangwurfelt wrote on August 29, 2014 at 2:08 pm

"Based on your comments, they are all the same."

Sorry about your inability to read plain English, and your determination to keep digging yourself deeper into the hole.

Since you're struggling so hard to keep the penny from dropping, let's try an analogy. Suppose you heard someone say, "Obama is wrong about net neutrality and needs to just go back to eating watermelon" -- would you be arguing that it couldn't possibly be a racist statement because it was about net neutrality, which isn't a race issue? Because you're arguing that when you apply antisemitic language to Israel and its supporters, it somehow magically stops being antisemitic. Know what? It doesn't.

Font of Wisdom wrote on August 25, 2014 at 4:08 pm

On behalf of everyone who either works on the campus in some capacity or might someday apply to work there, I would greatly appreciate if the Chancellor and Board of Trustees (led by soon-to-be U.S. Senate candidate Chris Kennedy) would clarify the standards of speech and opinion that they have put into place.

1. Which topics are considered to be not collegial?  Could you please spell out which positions in these debates are out-of-bounds so that we can all align our personal opinions the right way? 

2. Exactly how much does a donor have to give in order to get a faculty member removed?  Would that amount still apply if a group bands together to write a single check?  Would it cost the same to get someone off the street hired as faculty (assuming they have the correct opinions, of course) as it does to have qualified faculty removed?

3. How much does it cost to get a grade changed?  Avoid academic probation?  Get away with plagiarism?  Skip disciplinary action?  Drive at high speed across the quad?  Dump our garbage on the Alma Mater?  I think a proper menu of how much these things cost should be presented to the public so that we can all start saving up for our hearts' desires.

4. Who is covered by these rules?  Only some faculty, or does it include civil service and contractors too?  If I'm a carpenter, do I also have to surrender my social media passwords to you?  Or is that going to be on a case-by-case basis, and if so what determines who is included?

I have questions about how things work in this brave new world, I hope that our fearless (fearful?) leaders have some answers.  And soon...

Rocky7 wrote on August 26, 2014 at 3:08 am

The Chronicle of Higher Education published an article concerning the Salaia case  entitled "Can the Board of Trustees  Really Revoke my Job Offer."  The answer is definitely “yes” and faculty should never assume it can’t happen. It also brough back some memories.

During 1969, while a geology professor at the University of Pennsylvania, I interviewed for a faculty appointment at the University of Illinois @Urbana-Champaign  (UIUC).  The interview went well and it led to a job offer which I ultimately accepted (starting, February 1, 1970).  When the offer was made, the geology department head at UIUC explained that he would forward my appointment papers to the college of Liberal Arts and Sciences so that the college’s appointments committee and executive committees could approve it.  Then my appointment papers went to the office of the Vice-Chancellor for Academic Affairs where another appointments and executive committee would both review it and approve it.  Once those hurdles were cleared, my appointment papers had to be approved by the Board of Trustees.

The geology department head told me he would keep me informed after both the Dean and then the Vice Chancellor approved and signed the paperwork.   He did so.  He also advised in a letter that “after the Board of Trustees approves the appointment, I shall write you a confirmation letter and you are then free to resign from the University of Pennsylvania at your convenience.” The Board approved my appointment, the head wrote me the confirmation letter, I accepted it, and on receipt of confirmation of my acceptance, I resigned from my position at Penn.

Please notice two things.  First, this happened at the University of Illinois @ Urbana-Champaign. Second, the question can rightly be asked whether the Department Head of the American Indian Studies Department at UIUC explained the process to Dr. Salaita and advised him not to take any action until the Board approved the appointment. Perhaps the News-Gazette could inquire whether in fact that happened.  If so, Dr. Salaita poentially may not have a  case should he wish to pursue the issue.  If not, substantive questions about administrative competency at the departmental level can be asked.

 

itazurakko wrote on August 26, 2014 at 11:08 am

Thing is though, any forwarding of his appointment for approval by the Board of Trustees was to happen in SEPTEMBER, which is AFTER the guy was supposed to already be on campus and teaching classes.

 

If nothing else, this entire episode has helped expose that bit of weirdness that is standard at the U of I in regards to hiring.  It's quite frankly messed up, completely aside from anything to do with this particular case.  If someone is to start work on a daily basis, you can't realistically require him to not make any permanent moves in his life (such as quitting his other job half a country away).

wayward wrote on August 26, 2014 at 12:08 pm

Yes, and if it meant that you didn't really have an offer from UI until BOT approval, that could really slow the hiring process down.  There's also the risk that the candidate might take another job if the delay was too long, which would mean that the unit would get to start the whole process all over again.

rsp wrote on August 27, 2014 at 12:08 pm

His wife also quit her job and they had rented a house here and were in the middle of moving. The school was involved with moving arrangements, probably even expenses. Wise's office spends a couple weeks working on the legal ramifications of firing him. If people are already in your payroll system you are firing them. Just because a donor wasn't happy. It all comes down to those emails about the money, and the campaign to get him fired. How do you fight the insidious nature of that when people don't even have the integrity to find out if the things being said are true?

Rocky7 wrote on August 27, 2014 at 5:08 pm

With all due respect rsp, do you really know and have PROOF that Dr. Salaita actually signed payroll forms and that they were BOTH approved and entered into the payroll system?

If so, please show your evidence.

Thank you.

PS.  Hearsay will not suffice

wayward wrote on August 27, 2014 at 6:08 pm

He was asked to sign a document accepting the offer and did.

http://www.news-gazette.com/sites/all/files/pdf/2014/08/13/14-529.Docume...

Rocky7 wrote on August 27, 2014 at 7:08 pm

It is my understanding that by accepting an offer, he also agreed to the contingencies in that offer (inclding Board of Trustees review).  Moreover, signing an offer acceptance letter is NOT the same as signing the forms to get on payroll.

wayward wrote on August 27, 2014 at 11:08 pm

I really don't recall having to physically sign anything other than my acceptance of the offer to get on the payroll. A lot of pay - related stuff at UI is done online.

Rocky7 wrote on August 28, 2014 at 5:08 am

Likely even if everything is done online, the trigger to get on payroll still depends on completion of the appointment process.  That's the way it is wherever one is employed.  There may be exceptions for graduate assisants, instructors,  and assistant professors but I doubt it.

itazurakko wrote on August 28, 2014 at 2:08 pm

Which brings us right back to the silly situation where the U of I expects people to show up and actually start WORKING in their new jobs before they are "officially" hired, if you're going to count the BoT approval as the final step in the hiring process.

If that's how the U of I wants to play, that's fine, but then they really need to up their game and have all the approvals signed (or rejected) before the first day of classes, at a minimum.

Otherwise, you're working while not officially hired. So which is it?

wayward wrote on August 28, 2014 at 2:08 pm

University of Chicago law prof Brian Leiter writes about the constitutional issues in Salaita's "de-hiring":

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/brian-leiter/salaita-v-university-of-i_b_5...

Rocky7 wrote on August 28, 2014 at 5:08 pm

I agree that the review process throught the UofI system needs speeding up and approvals (including by the Board of Trustees) should definitely be made BEFORE classes start.

When I was hired years ago by UIUC, it took FIVE MONTHS between the time the verbal offer was made by a department head and final Board of Trustees approval. That's just a tad too long.

I also have it on written authority from an un-named source that some faculty showed up to teach classes anyway and their mortgage applicaitons were denied or delayed awaiting the Board  of Trustees approval of their appointment.

I understand a UIUC facuty senate committee is reviewing this issue now.  Let's see what they propose.

wayward wrote on August 28, 2014 at 6:08 pm

Wonder if there'd be any possibility of reducing the number of appointments that require BOT approval.  I can see having it for tenured faculty, high-level administrators, etc, but is it really necessary with lower-level staffers?

Rocky7 wrote on August 28, 2014 at 9:08 pm

Great suggestion.  Why not pass it on to the UIUC Senate leadership for their evaluation.

Bulldogmojo wrote on August 29, 2014 at 11:08 am

 

"Wise said her decision to not forward his appointment to trustees for formal approval was not influenced by his criticism of Israel."

And yet it was.

Wise is attempting to shoehorn this issue into the constraints of the syntax of academic testing of hypothesis, which is absurd.  Would anyone discuss the oppressions and violence of Northern Ireland, Soweto South Africa or the former East Berlin in those terms? Salaita is entitled to express his views with as much hyperbole, parallels, sarcasm and pointed indignation as he would like outside of University time and property. It is after all free speech not the actual violence itself. They are just words which is all any of us have and they can create despair and peace in equal measure. Religious rationalizations for violence is a scourge on humanity and very real people are dying. Sometimes language needs to shock to wake people up to their own wretchedness and we look to the the most experienced and astute as well as the most formally educated for these messages. Remember the resistence to the Vietnam war was born of heated student and academic activism bringing our involvement to an earlier end so it does have an impact.

Wise chooses to silence activism here. 

Rocky7 wrote on August 30, 2014 at 1:08 am

The issue is whether Dr. Salita used good judgement and maturity in his tweets. It looks like he didn't

Rocky7 wrote on August 30, 2014 at 4:08 am

I find it most disturbing and almost apalling that individuals who allegedly support free speech are also supporting   an individual whose tweets can be construed as borderline "Hate-Speech." In most major university circles, including UIUC,  'hate speech' is not permitted and dealt with severely.