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U. Illinois Board of Trustees votes down Steven Salaita

U. Illinois Board of Trustees votes down Steven Salaita

Votes 8-1 against granting tenure after weeks of protest by Salaita supporters and threats of a lawsuit.

The University of Illinois Board of Trustees just voted on the recommendation of a tenured position for Steven Salaita.

The issue became highly controversial when UI at Urbana-Champaign Chancellor Phyllis Wise first declined to forward the recommendation to the Board.

Salaita’s tweets about Jews, Israel and Gaza caused a wide-ranging debate on social media and among academics.

Our prior posts are under the Steven Salaita Tag.

After weeks of protest and threats of a lawsuit, the recommendation was forwarded for vote today.

There were several editorials from major Illinois publications in the past week supporting Wise and arguing that Salaita’s tweets crossed a line, including the Urbana News-Gazette, Chicago Tribune, and Chicago Sun Times. The Tribune Editorial Board wrote:

Salaita was dumped because his tweets crossed the line from caustic commentary to hate speech. Some of his remarks come uncomfortably and irresponsibly close to endorsing violence against individuals or groups of people. Some are racist. At the very least, they would create a hostile environment in which others must work or study.

Salaita has every right to say anything he wants, about Israel or anything else, but not without consequence. The university can and should weigh his public statements when deciding whether he’d be a suitable and productive faculty member. It’s too bad they didn’t figure things out before making the job offer, because their about-face has left Salaita and his wife without jobs or a home. He’s threatening to sue. The university may offer compensation, though, as Northwestern University law professor Steven Lubet convincingly argued last month in these pages, Salaita’s legal position is shaky.

There’s plenty of room at the U. of I. for passionate intellectual discourse. There’s room for profanity, vitriol and provocative language. But there’s no reason to make room for hate speech.

The liberal Jewish Forward issued an editorial which read, in part:

Twitter is a coarse medium, and a very public one, and many of Salaita’s posts about Israel and Zionism employ traditional anti-Semitic tropes and slanders so repeatedly that it’s impossible not to discern a deliberate pattern of thought. Salaita told our Nathan Guttman in an interview that Jewish students have nothing to fear in his classroom. Sorry, that’s just not believable.

“I’ve had a horrible influx of Zio-trolls today,” he tweeted April 25. “It’s like getting a case of the scabies. They burrow in and you want to rip off your skin.”

“There’s something profoundly sexual to the Zionist pleasure w/#Israel’s aggression,” he posted on July 9. “Sublimation through bloodletting, a common perversion.”

This expression goes far beyond disputing Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians, its military conduct in Gaza or even its right to exist, to trade in the kind of dangerous rhetoric that has characterized anti-Jewish sentiment for centuries. The attempts by his supporters to excuse this language would be laughable if they weren’t so dismaying. Just one example: Michael Rothberg, head of the English department at UIUC, released a letter that he wrote to Wise arguing that Salaita’s tweets were justified because of Israel’s destructive incursion into Gaza.

But the first one we cited was written in April. And the second one only a day after Israel launched Operation Protective Edge on July 8, when the violence had barely begun.

Numerous academic groups and individual professors supported Salaita, and argued that Salaita’s contractual, constitutional and academic freedom rights were being infringed.

Wise, in statements at the meeting, stood by her position that she cannot recommend tenure for Salaita and opposed the recommendation. President Robert Easter echoed her remarks against the tenure appointment.

The Board voted 8-1 against granting Salaita tenure. We will embed video of today’s proceedings when available.

Steve Salaita Twitter Photo Cropped

(Steven Salaita Twitter Profile Photo)

Phyllis Wise entering the meeting:

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Comments

Maybe he can get a tenured position at Univ of Hamas … or Univ of Jihad.

In a profession infamous for boobery, Salaita was too big a boob to swallow.

As a “scholar”, he’d make a fine janitor…AFTER some effective remediation.

    janitor in reply to Ragspierre. | September 11, 2014 at 8:26 pm

    Hey, whoa…

    I hope that he does go ahead and sue. It will expose him to discovery. Digging into his tweets, correspondence and other evidence of vile, hate-filled antisemitism, to show exactly why it was reasonable for his contract to not be approved.

    There will be no award of “specific performance” as, in theory, money damages would be sufficient to remedy if granted by a Jury (no injunctive relief). I’m sure that there is no promissory estoppel, or even reliance damages, regardless of what Salaita might subjectively “believe.”

    No sane Jury would give him a dime in compensation. Make him sue. He will bankrupt himself in the process, because no sane lawyer will take it on contingency, either.

TOTALLY deserved!!

Time to treat these frauds for who they are.

They give human rights a bad name.

    Will add that for these “supporters” to look at him as a champion of academic freedom illustrates again how little they actually value the idea. It is a Pavlovian exercise in moral narcissism.

    For some reason, because it involves Israel and Jews, obsessive hate and incitement from the professor will be tolerated, even though it is at minimum antisemitic in effect.

    One would think those that proclaim to care for human rights, as if others do not care, would see the inconsistency.

Good they voted him down, but he’ll still be needing weeks in sensitivity training. lol

Wouldn’t it be wild if the haters on the left had to endure some of what they force on some conservatives. He should probably be audited too, and all communications monitored as they did to Rosen. Probably should tap his parents phone too, just to be sure. heh

    healthguyfsu in reply to Midwest Rhino. | September 11, 2014 at 4:40 pm

    Not sure if you understand tenure. He won’t need training in anything. He’s done at that school. He may get one year more to find another job because of the cyclical nature of academic hires, but that will be conditional.

      Gremlin1974 in reply to healthguyfsu. | September 11, 2014 at 5:20 pm

      Actually he was never tenured at that University, so I doubt they will be on the hook for anything other than if there is a civil suit.

      He resigned his tenure at his previous University before he was sure he had the job at this University.

      So in any reasonable world even if he does sue the court will find that neither University is responsible, he resigned from one and the second even if the chancellor had forwarded his application with her recommendation the board still could have voted it down and he wouldn’t have the job anyway.

        You have to love the karma teeth marks on his butt. The mark of justice.

        healthguyfsu in reply to Gremlin1974. | September 12, 2014 at 11:28 am

        It’s not about being “on the hook”. It is customary that a professor denied tenure is given a year of employment to help smooth the transition to another job. I imagine they will follow through with that to not appear punitive.

          Gremlin1974 in reply to healthguyfsu. | September 14, 2014 at 2:34 pm

          Wait, let me get this straight. So this system is so broken and stupid that if you aren’t hired for a job they still have to pay you for a year, even if you didn’t work at that University in the first place?

          This psycho was not denied tenure at a University were he was currently employed he was denied tenure and a job, his entire appointment was denied, not just tenure. I can see if he actually worked there, maybe, maybe, doing something like that, but a year is ridiculous.

          This psych was never employed at the University in any capacity, he quit his job before he was sure his appointment would go though and now he want so whine because he didn’t get a job he felt “entitled” to, well boo hoo. I wish every time I applied for a job they had to pay me for a year when they didn’t hire me, I would have applications flying out the door like paper airplanes.

I would applaud this vote if it wasn’t just a sign of cowardice on the part of the University. They should have never given in because to actually vote on this give legitimacy to this nut jobs claim and will be used against them during the civil suit which I am sure is coming and will probably involve the University giving him a large settlement.

The Chancellor was well within her rights and responsibilities to refuse to forward the recommendation to the board. That should have been the end of it.

    Ragspierre in reply to Gremlin1974. | September 11, 2014 at 3:18 pm

    I’m less pessimistic about a successful suit by this boob.

    In any event, if the university pays a settlement it will be a bargain compared to having him represent the institution as a tenured professor. There are some things you just have to pay for.

      Gremlin1974 in reply to Ragspierre. | September 11, 2014 at 5:16 pm

      Oh, I agree completely that any amount of money is better than letting this psycho continue to twist and infect young minds.

      I would be pessimistic about a civil suit if I were an attorney and someone in his position came in for a consult. I don’t see promissory estoppel or reliance damages.

      This is not a case I would take on contingency, because the egos involved are going to preclude getting to a reasonable settlement within a reasonable amount of time. I MIGHT take this one on hourly billing with a large enough evergreen prepaid fee, but I would drop it like a hot rock if he stopped paying.

I have never seen his qualifications for teaching American Indian studies class. And he wants tenure? Does anyone know why he’d get that job in the first place?

    “I have never seen his qualifications for teaching American Indian studies class.”

    He could be a ‘soulmate’ with Lieawatha.

Obviously the rot goes deeper than they’re admitting. Why was this hammerhead given any sort of offer in the first place?

If he has any redeeming virtues, wouldn’t we have heard something about them by now? But all his defenders seem to be speaking in generic terms about a general concept of “academic freedom” which seems to be indistinguishable from “Anything goes” and “Standards? We don’t need no stinking standards.”

PersonFromPorlock | September 11, 2014 at 4:04 pm

There’s an older standard than ‘hate speech’:

JA Smith, professor of moral philosophy at Oxford University, opened a lecture course in 1914, just before the First World War, with:

“Nothing that you will learn in the course of your studies will be of the slightest possible use to you in after life, save only this: if you work hard and intelligently you should be able to detect when a man is talking rubbish. And that, in my view, is the main, if not the sole, purpose of education.”

By all means, refuse him tenure on the grounds he’s talking rubbish. Of course, this may disconcert those modern academics who believe liberal education should inculcate the idea that there’s no such thing as rubbish, at least among their kind.

PersonFromPorlock | September 11, 2014 at 4:06 pm

Arrggh! ‘Preview’ is our friend. Sorry.

There’s an older standard than ‘hate speech’:

JA Smith, professor of moral philosophy at Oxford University, opened a lecture course in 1914, just before the First World War, with:

“Nothing that you will learn in the course of your studies will be of the slightest possible use to you in after life, save only this: if you work hard and intelligently you should be able to detect when a man is talking rubbish. And that, in my view, is the main, if not the sole, purpose of education.”

By all means, refuse him tenure on the grounds he’s talking rubbish. Of course, this may disconcert those modern academics who believe liberal education should inculcate the idea that there’s no such thing as rubbish, at least among their kind.

This is not about free speech. This is about institutionalizing antisemitism by cloaking it as a human rights or free speech issue. It’s neither.

Since he had to know or should have known that no faculty position was guaranteed until the Trustees approved, I don’t see any case at all for him here.

Now if about 2000 other boards would grow some cojones, too, we might clean up higher education in a generation or two. Not holding my breath, though.

In the meantime, cut off the taxpayer money and watch ’em squirm.

“their about-face has left Salaita and his wife without jobs or a home.”
No. His quitting his job before getting a signed contract left him without a job. She must have been stupid enough to quit hers too.

I have a great idea for the professor. Why don’t you go and get Ward Churchill’s lawyer and sue the university! Maybe you will win and get the same amount of cash Chief Churchill received: ONE DOLLAR

(See: http://www.thedenverchannel.com/news/ward-churchill-wins-civil-suit-against-cu )

Did anyone else notice that in the last video where the chancellor is entering the venue the students with the #UIstudents4Salatia are chanting “What do we want? REINSTATMENT!” It pains me to realize that these are collage students who aren’t even smart enough to realize the since this psycho was never actually hired by the University he can’t be “Reinstated”.

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