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U of I: No constitutional right to a faculty position

Thursday, Jan 29, 2015

* I find it nearly impossible to argue with this U of I press release…

The University of Illinois must balance all of the interests of its campuses and the institution in reaching any decision, particularly one as important as granting a positon as a member of our faculty.

Last summer, while Steven Salaita was still under consideration for a tenured position to teach courses comparing issues related to the experiences of Native Americans to issues related to Palestinians and the Middle East, Dr. Salaita began demonstrating that he lacked the professional fitness to serve on the faculty of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Specifically, Dr. Salaita began making a series of statements via social media on precisely the subject matter that he proposed to teach at our University. For example, on June 19, 2014, after three Israeli teenagers were reported kidnapped and presumed dead, Dr. Salaita posted a statement on Twitter which read: “You may be too refined to say it, but I’m not: I wish all the f**king West Bank settlers would go missing.” Dr. Salaita continued to post this comment even after the three teens were found murdered later that month.

Dr. Salaita also posted statements such as:

    “Zionist uplift in America: every little Jewish boy and girl can grow up to be the leader of a monstrous colonial regime.”

    “If #Israel affirms life, then why do so many Zionists celebrate the slaughter of children? What’s that? Oh, I see JEWISH life.”

    “Zionists: transforming antisemitism [sic] from something horrible into something honorable since 1948.”

    “Let’s cut to the chase: If you’re defending #Israel right now you’re an awful human being.”

These statements and many more like them demonstrate that Dr. Salaita lacks the judgment, temperament and thoughtfulness to serve as a member of our faculty in any capacity, but particularly to teach courses related to the Middle East.

As Dr. Salaita admits in the complaint he filed today, the offer he received in October 2013 from the American Indian Studies Program was at all times subject to the ultimate approval of the Board of Trustees. This is consistent with the Statutes of the University of Illinois and the past precedent of the University. Dr. Salaita was well aware of the importance of this final approval. At no time was Dr. Salaita hired as a faculty member. His appointment was always subject to approval by the Board of Trustees.

On September 11, 2014, after carefully considering all of the issues related to Dr. Salaita’s proposed appointment, the Board of Trustees voted 8-1 not to approve Dr. Salaita for a position on the faculty. Two weeks ago, the Board emphatically reiterated that its decision is final and will not be reconsidered.

The Board’s decision concerning Dr. Salaita was not reached hastily. Nor was it the result of external pressures. Indeed, the Committee on Academic Freedom and Tenure concurred that “donor influence” was not a basis for the decision. The decision did not present a “new approach” to the consideration of proposed faculty appointments. It represented the careful exercise of each Board member’s fiduciary duty and a balancing of all of the interests of the University of Illinois. In the end, this is a responsibility that cannot be delegated nor abdicated.

Today, Dr. Salaita has filed a complaint in federal court. Among other accusations, he contends that the individual trustees and administrators of the University of Illinois are liable for intentionally inflicting emotional distress by refusing to provide him with a faculty position. The University of Illinois intends to vigorously defend against these and each of Dr. Salaita’s other meritless claims. The University has attempted to negotiate a settlement for his reasonable losses and expenses, but he has refused those offers.

As a private citizen, Dr. Salaita has the constitutional right to make any public statement he chooses. Dr. Salaita, however, does not have a constitutional right to a faculty position at the University of Illinois.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

68 Comments
  1. - Oswego Willy - Thursday, Jan 29, 15 @ 12:58 pm:

    Freedom of Speech doesn’t guarantee everyone likes wgat you will say, that only good can come from your statements, and you won’t be held responsible for your statements.

    You are free to say it, you’re also free to face the ramifications of your words.


  2. - Formerly Known As... - Thursday, Jan 29, 15 @ 1:00 pm:

    The first thing U of I has done correctly in a while.

    I would not want my children learning anything from a person making such vile statements as Mr Salaita. Good riddance.


  3. - Soccermom - Thursday, Jan 29, 15 @ 1:02 pm:

    This is well done.


  4. - PublicServant - Thursday, Jan 29, 15 @ 1:07 pm:

    I wonder what he’s tweeting about U of I? He has the right to his opinion, but not to a job. And emotional distress is funny. I wonder if he thought about the emotional distress his tweet might cause the families of those three kids that were missing when he tweeted it?

    Good riddance!


  5. - Filmmaker Professor - Thursday, Jan 29, 15 @ 1:09 pm:

    Not so fast. This all hinges on whether at the time of the Tweets, he was actually an employee. This is not nearly as cut-and-dried as many of you might think; there is an enormous amount of precedent of faculty members being treated as and actually working as employees before technically being approved by the Board of Trustees. If he is ruled to have been an employee, then he has a constitutional right to free speech — along as that speech doesn’t break any laws, which his didn’t — away from the classroom without being punished by the government, which in this case, would be a state university.


  6. - Archiesmom - Thursday, Jan 29, 15 @ 1:10 pm:

    Well said.


  7. - old-pol - Thursday, Jan 29, 15 @ 1:10 pm:

    “…(no) constitutional right to a faculty position…”
    Agree- but he does have a right to have his employment rejected for reasons permitted by law and not for his political beliefs or exercise of his 1st amendment rights. The U of I is a public employer and thus subject to the rules against discrimination in hiring.


  8. - Filmmaker Professor - Thursday, Jan 29, 15 @ 1:11 pm:

    And let me add, the Center for Constitutional Rights would not have taken this if it didn’t feel he had a good case. This is not the law firm of Larry, Moe, and Curly, Ambulance chasers.


  9. - Demoralized - Thursday, Jan 29, 15 @ 1:12 pm:

    It amazes me the stupidity exhibited by some people. Only in the mind of the twisted does it seem rational to think that you can say and do what you want and you can get a pass from everyone for saying or doing it because of your 1st Amendment rights.

    Dope.


  10. - A guy - Thursday, Jan 29, 15 @ 1:13 pm:

    Take a walk Dr. You tweeted yourself right out of a good job. Thanks for doing that. It made the decision much easier. Ciao.


  11. - Demoralized - Thursday, Jan 29, 15 @ 1:14 pm:

    ==If he is ruled to have been an employee, then he has a constitutional right to free speech — along as that speech doesn’t break any laws, which his didn’t — away from the classroom without being punished by the government, which in this case, would be a state university==

    That’s just dopey. So what you are basically saying is that you can do and say anything you want and your employer can’t do anything about it. One word - BULL.


  12. - Rahm's Parking Meter - Thursday, Jan 29, 15 @ 1:15 pm:

    Rare praise for the U of I from this NIU Alum. Well done. Salaita was denied tenure within the rules of tenure. And personally, as a Jewish American citizen of the State of Illinois, I find his statements disgusting, revolting and factually incorrect. Not well done, Professor.


  13. - Peoria Guy - Thursday, Jan 29, 15 @ 1:19 pm:

    Hear, hear!


  14. - Federalist - Thursday, Jan 29, 15 @ 1:21 pm:

    Even if you believe that such statements are protected for a tenure faculty member, she was not tenured. Case closed- or at least it should be but don’t count on it yet.


  15. - Sir Reel - Thursday, Jan 29, 15 @ 1:21 pm:

    “Ultimate approval of the Board of Trustees” says it all.

    As my old boss used to say, everybody works for somebody.


  16. - Ron Burgundy - Thursday, Jan 29, 15 @ 1:25 pm:

    He’s entitled to his views, and I’m entitled to mine. In my view, he exhibited poor judgment and I would not want him teaching students at U of I either.


  17. - wayward - Thursday, Jan 29, 15 @ 1:27 pm:

    Salaita wasn’t a great hire, IMHO. I took a look at his dissertation and wasn’t impressed. However, this situation did expose a serious problem with UI’s hiring process — basically, the BoT approval was treated as a rubber stamp and faculty were commonly expected to move to Illinois and start work before their hire was officially approved. So Salaita is probably entitled to some compensation for that, but I’m not convinced he’s entitled to a faculty position.


  18. - Wordslinger - Thursday, Jan 29, 15 @ 1:32 pm:

    I’d say there is a lack of judgement, temperament and thoughtfulness there.

    You know, it is possible to oppose certain Likud policies toward the Palestinains without being an anti-Semitic nut. There are Jewish members of the Knesset who do it evey day.


  19. - Soccermom - Thursday, Jan 29, 15 @ 1:32 pm:

    Wayward, that’s a good point. The process seems odd, and this controversy may make it difficult for U of I to attract new faculty going forward. (I am not referring to the political issue - -just the idea that they are expected to pull up stakes and move before their jobs are approved.)


  20. - Carl Nyberg - Thursday, Jan 29, 15 @ 1:42 pm:

    How many people has UIUC let go for supporting Iraq War? Drone strikes? Torture? Wars illegal under US Constitution or UN Charter? Israel’s war crimes & genocide against the Palestinians?

    Having zero compassion for using state power to kill, torture, exploit & oppress Muslims is not only acceptable, it’s the dominant culture in the United States.


  21. - Jorge - Thursday, Jan 29, 15 @ 1:43 pm:

    You can say what you want…however there are consequences for what you say. Just ask Mitt.


  22. - ChelseaBlue - Thursday, Jan 29, 15 @ 1:45 pm:

    I can’t help but wonder what the public reaction would have been had his message been flipped 180 degrees. What if his criticism was of the Palestinians rather than the Israelis, but still delivered in the same profoundly injudicious manner? Would he be teaching at the U of I now?


  23. - White Denim - Thursday, Jan 29, 15 @ 1:47 pm:

    Filmmaker is right that this hinges more so on whether or not Salatia was actually an employee and less so on what was said. Any cases like this I can recall from recent memory (a professor tweeting that the families of NRA members should all be shot, for example) were adamantly defended by first amendment groups like FIRE. That professor got to keep his job–the speech was protected. Since Salatia was a probationary employee, I wonder if those same kinds of protections apply.


  24. - Anonymous - Thursday, Jan 29, 15 @ 1:49 pm:

    I think many of you are missing some of the legal issues that make this a harder case for U of I. The First Amendment only protects free speech from the government, so as a general rule, an employer can fire or not hire someone for things they say — however, U of I IS the government, so the First Amendment DOES protect someone in that case. And while tenure is a nice protection, you don’t have to have tenure to be protected by the First Amendment (in fact, I would argue it’s one of the reasons why nobody in the public sector needs tenure - the case law is pretty clear that your speech is protected if you work for the government unrelated to whether or not you have tenure). The only unclear matter is whether he was constructively ‘employed’ and therefore entitled to the protections. If not, then he’s probably out of luck.

    Having said all that, if I were a U of I trustee, I would probably have made the same decision and let the courts sort it out. The guy really doesn’t belong in the classroom.


  25. - Wordslinger - Thursday, Jan 29, 15 @ 2:01 pm:

    Chelsea, this public person’s reaction is the same to all the murderous haters that say the world would be a better place if Gaza were bombed into the Stone Age, or that all Muslims have to wear the jacket for all crimes committed by those who are Muslims.

    But Carl raises a very critical point. We in the United States have gotten awfully comfortable dropping bombs all over the world for many decades and writing off the death of innocent civilians as “collateral damage.”

    It happens all the time with these whack-a-mole drone strikes targeting some loudmouth banditos in Asia and North Africa.

    Those civilians don’t view themselves as “collateral damage.” And in WWII, beforre the obfuscating wordsmiths got wise to the p.r. problem, dropping bombs from the sky on civilians was officially called “terror bombing.”


  26. - How Ironic - Thursday, Jan 29, 15 @ 2:19 pm:

    @Anon:

    “The First Amendment only protects free speech from the government, so as a general rule, an employer can fire or not hire someone for things they say — however, U of I IS the government, so the First Amendment DOES protect someone in that case.”

    That’s nonsense. The government is free to hire/fire whom it wishes based on the content of their speech.

    Do you really think just because you have a ‘gov job’ you can go off half cocked, and denigrate whole swaths of a population and have zero consequence?

    The U of I doesn’t deny Dr. Salaita the ability to say what he said. But the same freedom to express one’s self, doesn’t EXCLUDE the possibility of having serious consequences.

    That’s like saying a state worker that answers the phone for their department, and uses a negative slang “Hey mister N-word”, couldn’t be fired on the spot simply because he’s got a govt job.

    Please don’t ever try to use your expert legal analysis outside of your armchair. And I’d even hold off using it there.


  27. - Nicholas - Thursday, Jan 29, 15 @ 2:21 pm:

    Salaita’s lawsuit is based on constitutional and contractual claims. It will not be dismissed because of the arguments made in this press release by the University. Once a lawsuit survives the motion to dismiss, Salaita is entitled to “discovery”and will demand all of the emails, phone records, and minutes of Chancellor Wise and the BOT. Now, how big will the settlement offer from u. of I. be? Whether or not you agree with Salaita’s lawsuit, Chancellor Wise screwed up big time by unilaterally pulling the hire. That will cost us and it makes a mockery of shared governance that Chancellor Wise claims to hold dear. She and the BOT should be held accountable for this mess.


  28. - Anon. - Thursday, Jan 29, 15 @ 2:21 pm:

    Carl Nyberg — “Zionist uplift in America: every little Jewish boy and girl can grow up to be the leader of a monstrous colonial regime.” is not a criticism of Israeli policy or an argument in support of Palestinian rights. How about coming up with an example of where someone on the U of I payroll said “we should target our drones at children” and kept his job before claiming that this is a one-sided policy by the university?


  29. - Formerly Known As... - Thursday, Jan 29, 15 @ 2:22 pm:

    ==to teach courses comparing issues related to the experiences of Native Americans to issues related to Palestinians and the Middle East==

    Which certainly would have been taught in a rational academic, objective and subtly balanced fashion.


  30. - ZC - Thursday, Jan 29, 15 @ 2:25 pm:

    You -do- actually have a right to a job, at least for a contractual length of time, no matter what you say, in an academic position (excluding illegal speech, such as taking out a contract for murder, or sexually harassing a colleague. Or evidence you are incapable of handling a classroom say without persistently screaming at and intimidating your Jewish students. But as to the latter, outside tweets wouldn’t by themselves mean his in-classroom conduct wasn’t responsible. I know plenty of profs in academe who are militantly pro-Palestinian, but they are very fair in how they present the issues within a classroom).

    This is all what “academic freedom” means, and why you can’t too-easily make an analogy to speech in the everyday workforce. It’s one of the greatest job perks, what makes being an academic so empowering. (It’s generally not the pay). Whether academic freedom is not that necessary these days, or it defends too much behavior that is simply obnoxious, is a fair debate. But, it remains that at least for now it is U of I policy - and lord, if there’s anywhere I would paint a broad brush to protect the academic freedom of all scholars, wherever they fall on the divide, it’s Israel-Palestine.

    That statement about West Bank settlers going missing is horrifying and I suspect I wouldn’t be a fan of Dr Salaita’s, but it’s clearly not an incitement to violence that gets remotely close to any illegal conduct.

    But that all said, I -do- see the argument that he was not yet an employee. A university looking at an academic hire (and here the private sector analogy is fair) certainly might take a quick look at an applicant’s twitter feed, and say, “No thanks.” That part is undeniable (if the case precedent is correct). There is certainly no right to be -hired- in the first place. As far as that goes, Salaita is in the same boat with every college graduate who didn’t realize his Facebook page was accessible to the employer considering his application.


  31. - Huh? - Thursday, Jan 29, 15 @ 2:29 pm:

    “… while … still under consideration for a tenured position to teach courses … ”

    From my reading of the post, Steven Salaita was not an employee of the University. So the guy shots off his mouth and doesn’t like the consequences.

    The University ought to counter sue for costs.


  32. - AuH2O - Thursday, Jan 29, 15 @ 2:42 pm:

    The vote was 8-1 against bringing this guy on board? Who’s the dope that voted for him?


  33. - Ahoy! - Thursday, Jan 29, 15 @ 2:44 pm:

    I believe in Palestinian State hood and that our 100% support of Israel no matter what it does is immoral and I will never understand it (outside of being completely political). That being said, there is no way I would have hired Salaita.

    There is such thing as free speech just as there is accountability.


  34. - Federalist - Thursday, Jan 29, 15 @ 2:50 pm:

    I was in academia for 30 years. Unless you are tenured you really have few job protection rights.
    He may get another year if they did not fire him in time.

    As far as I can determine from the above info, he was not yet even on a tenure track position.

    Of course, this will get political and who knows what will happen. But I have seen tenure track faculty members fired even with three years of service (not yet tenured) and they are history.


  35. - jim - Thursday, Jan 29, 15 @ 2:50 pm:

    Chicago lawyer James Montgomery voted for him on free speech grounds. He didn’t say anything about the contractual question.


  36. - jim - Thursday, Jan 29, 15 @ 2:52 pm:

    re being hired on tenure track, Salaita was scheduled to receive a tenured position at the UI from the start because he resigned from his tenured position at Virginia Tech.
    He was actually between jobs, having quit at VTU and not yet officially hired by the UI trustees, as his contract required him to be.
    If he hadn’t resigned at VTU to come to the UI, he’d still be there on the English faculty.


  37. - VanillaMan - Thursday, Jan 29, 15 @ 2:56 pm:

    Antisemitism (also spelled Anti-Semitism or anti-semitism) is prejudice against, hatred of, or discrimination against Jews as a national, ethnic, religious or racial group. A person who holds such positions is called an “antisemite”. As Jews are an ethnoreligious group, antisemitism is generally considered a form of racism.

    If he was throwing around the word “Israeli”, or “Likud”, or placing conditions upon his statements reflecting a political opinion, then I’d cut him some slack although I disagreed with him.

    However, his comments could leave a listener or reader to believing he is a racist against Jews. Even giving him the benefit of a doubt, the University cannot and should not hire someone so poorly able to make a statement on Middle East issues without resorting to such unprofessional and hateful language.

    Buh-bye


  38. - Keyser Soze - Thursday, Jan 29, 15 @ 2:59 pm:

    There is a general feeling among a great many in the academic world that “academic freedom” in that venue pemits one to say anything, no matter how vile or offensive. Those who espouse that view have confused the first amendment with their presumed “right to permanent employment” via tenure. Fortunately the Board of Trustees nipped this problem in the bud.


  39. - Qui Tam - Thursday, Jan 29, 15 @ 3:14 pm:

    Nicholas @2:21pm makes the most relevant point.
    Illinois has a statewide policy of violating its own rules and procedures aside when it wants to retaliate against someone. While most seem convinced that it was justified in this case, there are plenty of other cases that don’t get these kind of self-serving press releases to win over the masses.
    As a prospective public employee, Dr. Saliata clearly misjudged what rough place Illinois is.


  40. - Left Leaner - Thursday, Jan 29, 15 @ 3:29 pm:

    UofI has the right to employ people who have the ‘professional fitness’ to perform the jobs in which they serve.

    Does Dr. Salaita have the right to post those statements on social media? Absolutely. Does the UofI have the right to evaluate those statements in determining his professional fitness to perform the job for which he was hired? Absolutely.


  41. - Pat C - Thursday, Jan 29, 15 @ 3:31 pm:

    Kenneth Howell

    So, why does this guy have a valid case and Ken Howell didn’t????


  42. - CapnCrunch - Thursday, Jan 29, 15 @ 3:33 pm:

    “Salaita wasn’t a great hire, IMHO. I took a look at his dissertation and wasn’t impressed…..”

    Apparently you are not alone, he is currently unemployed and living with his parents.


  43. - Pat C - Thursday, Jan 29, 15 @ 3:38 pm:

    he is currently unemployed

    The brutal truth is, there are a LOT more professors available than there are jobs for them. It’s not easy to get established, and its even harder to change schools. Regardless of this problem, he is likely really hard pressed to find employment.

    That’s what makes hires like Bill Ayres and his wife so infuriating. There were MANY people who could have ably filled those jobs.

    Many….


  44. - Responsa - Thursday, Jan 29, 15 @ 3:51 pm:

    I supported Chancellor Wise and the board’s decisions with respect to not hiring Salaita, and I strongly support the University of Illinois’ position in this lawsuit. Most people, if they’re being honest, know there are serious problems in academia, where more and more it seems many of the supposed “teachers” especially in the social sciences want to tell students *what* to think– and do everything BUT teach students *how* to prepare themselves for critical thinking and working and living in the real world they’ll encounter once they’re beyond college walls. In-the-flesh, self-important Steven Salaita encapsulates this disconnect of academic purpose perfectly. He’s the poster boy. He has shown he has no business teaching at our flagship university or getting tenure anywhere else in the State of Illinois. Thank goodness his tweets outed his clear inability to teach that course in a neutral manner in time for the University to dodge a bullet.


  45. - Filmmaker Professor - Thursday, Jan 29, 15 @ 3:51 pm:

    uh, excuse me. Check Bill Ayers academic record. You couldn’t “just” replace him. He was a superstar in his field — whether you like it or not.


  46. - Filmmaker Professor - Thursday, Jan 29, 15 @ 3:53 pm:

    Of course Salaita is unemployed; he was branded an anti-semite and fired. Who the hell do you think will hire him now?


  47. - Formerly Known As... - Thursday, Jan 29, 15 @ 3:59 pm:

    ==So the guy shots off his mouth and doesn’t like the consequences.==

    Not very smart for a professor.


  48. - Pat C - Thursday, Jan 29, 15 @ 4:05 pm:

    Bill Ayers academic record

    He published a lot. So do the vast majority of professors. Or they try do. I give him credit - he chose a field where its very hard to show that you had no actual results.

    He writes, the fanboys oohh and ahhh, they publish him, see how great he is?

    I seriously wonder, if his writing had been submitted anonymously, how far he would have gotten.


  49. - Filmmaker Professor - Thursday, Jan 29, 15 @ 4:07 pm:

    Ok Responsa, it’s gloves off time!

    “Most people know … many of the supposed ‘teachers’… want to tell students *what* to think …”

    And you and “most people” know that how? By sitting in on these college classes? How many have you and “most people” sat in on over the past year? There are about 6000 or so (my guess) classes being conducted this semester at UIUC. How many of them have you gone to in order to claim that *many* are the way you say they are? 5000? 4000? “Most people know” means “I saw it on Fox News.”
    The reason cases like Salaita and Bill Ayers are so shocking, and the reason why so many of you are stunned that the constitution allows professors so much leeway in the classroom is because … IT HAPPENS SO RARELY. 99.5% of university faculty conduct themselves in a totally professional way. American Universities are the envy of the world! Students from every country in the world flock to the US to study here; I don’t see thousands of US students flocking to China or Korea to get a degree.
    Stop believing the Fox b.s. and apply some of the “critical thinking” we aren’t teaching!


  50. - Wordslinger - Thursday, Jan 29, 15 @ 4:08 pm:

    Bill Ayers had huge clout in this town.

    His old man ran Commonwealth Edison for sixteen years and was on the boards of the biggest corporations, banks, and bigfoot civvie groups in Chicago.

    You think you come in from the cold and go to the front of the line with a smile and a shoeshine?


  51. - Skeptic - Thursday, Jan 29, 15 @ 4:16 pm:

    I’m no Constitutional expert, but IIRC, the 1st Amendment says “Congress shall make no law … abridging the freedom of speech.” There is no law involved here, just a job. Just like the Duck Dynasty dude.


  52. - Responsa - Thursday, Jan 29, 15 @ 4:19 pm:

    Filmmaker Professor–Trying to paint Dr. Salaita as a poor helpless unemployable victim when in fact he brought it all on himself is a no go, regardless of the outcome of any specific contractual issues you raise. Maybe he could go back to VTU. Or were they secretly happy and relieved to see him go? It would seem that Illinois’ flagship University would have been a big step up for Salaita. He certainly did not handle this well.


  53. - siriusly - Thursday, Jan 29, 15 @ 4:30 pm:

    I am so pleased with U of I for putting out that statement. So often organizations go with the “no comment” whenever litigation is involved, but clearly they needed to comment.


  54. - Pat C - Thursday, Jan 29, 15 @ 4:46 pm:

    Bill Ayers had huge clout in this town

    HAHAHHAHAHAHAHAHAHHA

    So, he needs to check his privilege? :))))


  55. - Anonymous - Thursday, Jan 29, 15 @ 4:51 pm:

    How Ironic. Sorry - you’re just wrong. The government cannot fire someone for what they say, certainly not a tenured professor, unless it falls into a unprotected category, such as those noted by ZC above. And there are limitations on the government’s ability to base hiring decisions on speech. The First Amendment was the basis for the Rutan case in the Supreme Court. (And please don’t fall back on the First Amendment saying ‘Congress shall make no law …’ First, the Supreme Court has held for more than 50 years that this applies to all levels of government. Second, it has long determined that the limitation goes beyond making a law.) Having said that, this case will turn on whether he was constructively ‘hired’ into the tenured position or not. If so, he could win. If not, then the speech he engaged in is most likely in a category that could be taken into account when considering his hiring. As it should be.


  56. - Jocko - Thursday, Jan 29, 15 @ 4:51 pm:

    Someone should tell Salaita to seek tenure at a nearby elementary school, then discuss his NAMBLA membership on social media.

    Let me know how that turns out.


  57. - How Ironic - Thursday, Jan 29, 15 @ 5:02 pm:

    @Pat C
    “I seriously wonder, if his writing had been submitted anonymously, how far he would have gotten.”

    Yes, same goes for just about any writer, ever. Dope.


  58. - CapnCrunch - Thursday, Jan 29, 15 @ 5:06 pm:

    “….apply some of the “critical thinking” we aren’t teaching!”

    You could hurt yourself engaging in “critical thinking” with the UIUC faculty. They are not going to allow students to be exposed to discordant expressions or ideas that might be personally offensive and hurtful (Chief Illiniwek) except when they are (Salita).


  59. - How Ironic - Thursday, Jan 29, 15 @ 5:23 pm:

    @Anon:
    How Ironic. Sorry - you’re just wrong. The government cannot fire someone for what they say, certainly not a tenured professor, unless it falls into a unprotected category, such as those noted by ZC above.”

    Please sell your armchair, your honorary law degree has been revoked.

    The Gov’t, is free to hire/fire workers based upon speech in the workplace. Just like private employers.

    And your addition of ‘tenure’ has absolutely nothing to do with free speech and the constitution.

    The professor wasn’t tenured, so that doesn’t even matter.

    Just because you have a gov’t job doesn’t give you superpowers to spout off any nonsense during work and be free from consequence.

    Nice try though.


  60. - Dr X - Thursday, Jan 29, 15 @ 5:26 pm:

    Acceptable, respectable, presentable, a vegetable!

    Isn’t this the future for right to work at colleges? Say the wrong thing and you’re gone. Make an admin angry, you’re gone. Interpret a fact and you’re gone. Make the wrong textbook selection and you’re gone. Don’t say anything but post something to social media and you’re gone. Ah freedom.


  61. - Arthur Andersen - Thursday, Jan 29, 15 @ 6:04 pm:

    Nicholas, you clearly have a clear grasp of the issues at hand here. I’m a bit troubled by the end of your post, though; if the leadership of the UI had made a determination that Salaita lacked the professional fitness to serve as a faculty member, how is the Chancellor’s action “unilateral?” Are you arguing for faculty input through the Senate? Something else?

    I back the UI’s decision 100 percent and would have done the same thing if an employee I hired popped off like that before his first day of work.


  62. - Filmmaker Professor - Thursday, Jan 29, 15 @ 6:12 pm:

    CapnCrunch, kids wear chief illiniwek shirts to my classes all the time. they are free to express their opinions on it too. Racial stereotype mascots are not appropriate for any public school that claims to respect all people. Chief illiniwek is gone because the NCAA ruled that it is offensive. if you have a problem with that, take it up with them. got nothing to do with Salaita.
    And if the faculty of UIUC are so bad, why are 40,000 students willing to voluntarily pay $20K per year and up to attend? nobody is forcing them. Free Market. Yet my classes are full every semester. None of my classes are required. The marketplace has spoken. I’m worth the money,


  63. - How Ironic - Thursday, Jan 29, 15 @ 6:20 pm:

    @ Dr. X

    “Ah freedom.”

    Why is it that the loudest mouths at the party spouting off about ‘Freedom of Speech’ seem to forget the part where ‘Freedom of Speech’ doesn’t mean ‘Freedom From Consequences’?

    The good Dr. is ‘Free’ to keep posting his thoughts and opinions to social media. He can buy a bullhorn, and now with all of his ‘extra time’ stand in the town square and scream it to passing citizens.


  64. - Dr X - Thursday, Jan 29, 15 @ 8:02 pm:

    @how ironic

    You missed my cynical point - even inoffensive speech would be grounds for dismissal in a “right to work and shut your mouth state”.

    This whole thing would have a great teachable moment about our relationship with Israel and the double standards in our international policy…but you can only say the right things when it comes to that. So the “consequences of freedom” are another way of saying we don’t like dissent.


  65. - Anonymous - Thursday, Jan 29, 15 @ 8:15 pm:

    HowIronic: “The professor wasn’t tenured, so that doesn’t even matter.”

    Salaita was hired at the UI with his tenure already in place. He was transitioning from one tenured position to another.

    Was Salita actually employed at the UI as a tenured faculty member at the time of his firing? Perhaps he was, or perhaps he wasn’t - the courts will decide this issue.

    One thing needs to be abundantly clear, however: If Salaita was in fact a tenured faculty member, then it would be highly inappropriate to fire him regardless of what you may think about his comments. You cannot fire a tenured faculty member for purely political reasons without violating his or her constitutional and contractual rights. This is never appropriate, and that’s what this controversy is all about.


  66. - Responsa - Thursday, Jan 29, 15 @ 8:43 pm:

    This may help: Following are two direct quotes from the U of I’s statement today.

    *Last summer, while Steven Salaita was still under consideration for a tenured position to teach courses…”

    * “Dr. Salaita admits in the complaint he filed today, the offer he received in October 2013 from the American Indian Studies Program was at all times subject to the ultimate approval of the Board of Trustees. This is consistent with the Statutes of the University of Illinois and the past precedent of the University. Dr. *Salaita was well aware of the importance of this final approval. At no time was Dr. Salaita hired as a faculty member. His appointment was always subject to approval by the Board of Trustees.”

    Since in his own complaint Salaita never claimed that anyone — much less anyone with authority — promised him that Board of Trustees approval was not needed or was waived, how can he also claim to be an employee? This seems like a glaring defect in his complaint. As such, Salaita will have great difficulty trying to convince a court that his contingent offer was actually an enforceable agreement.


  67. - dr. reason a. goodwin - Thursday, Jan 29, 15 @ 9:10 pm:

    I predict Salaita will win this. The hiring procedures at universities are so fuzzy that actual board approval is almost an afterthought. Employees are often well into their jobs before that approval comes.


  68. - Midway Gardens - Thursday, Jan 29, 15 @ 10:59 pm:

    The UIC is going about this by not objecting to the specifics of his speech but that they demonstrate his lack of fitness for a position. Their best argument. But the UIC Faculty report generally supports Salaita http://www.scribd.com/doc/250857474/CAFT-Report-on-Steven-Salaita-Case.

    We’re going to see cuts in many good programs. Sad that we fund radicals in the American Indian Department and spend money over this lawsuit. The UIC hiring process does not follow good business practices and it’s probably going to mean this guy gets a job for life on my dime.


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