September 28th, 2014
On a Friday night in early August, Prof. Corey Robin put out a call on his blog. There had been plenty of grumbling over the University of Illinois’s decision to revoke a job offer to Prof. Steven G. Salaita, who gained notoriety for incendiary tweets about Israel. But it had not been enough to persuade the university to reinstate Professor Salaita. So Professor Robin, a political theorist at the City University of New York’s Brooklyn College, ratcheted up the pressure.
He suggested that scholars in every field begin organizing public statements refusing to accept any invitations to speak on any campus of the University of Illinois, a serious disruption of academic business.
“Nobody’s gonna do this,” Mr. Robin remembers telling his wife. But, to his surprise, they did. Philosophers, citing CoreyRobin.com, took up the challenge. The boycotts snowballed. English professors. Political scientists. Anthropologists. All signed on, and Mr. Robin blogged each fresh step. By his last count, more than 5,000 scholars had joined boycotts.