Termination of Steven Salaita a bad move by the University

I received my Ph.D. from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, but I have never felt less proud of my alma mater than upon learning of Chancellor Wise’s decision to summarily terminate the appointment of Professor Steven Salaita in the American Indian Studies Program at the University.

If, as reported in the media, the decision to terminate Professor Salaita’s appointment was based on his Tweeted statements about the Israeli genocide in Gaza, that would constitute a violation of his first amendment rights as well as the American Association of University Professors 1940 Statement of Principles on Academic Freedom and Tenure, which declares of faculty members that, “When they speak or write as citizens, they should be free from institutional censorship or discipline.”

The Illinois Conference Committee A on Academic Freedom and Tenure of the AAUP has spoken clearly on this, issuing a statement declaring that the University “cannot cancel an appointment based upon Twitter statements that are protected speech in the United States of America.”

I would therefore urge Chancellor Wise to reverse this decision and reaffirm the University’s contractual obligation to Professor Salaita; any other action would disgrace the University and would compel me to consider whether I could in good faith continue to support the University of Illinois financially or otherwise.

Pauline Park, University alumna 1994, Ph.D. She can be reached at [email protected].

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