Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Salaita v. U of Illinois

Inside Higher Ed
June 17th, 2015

In the spring of 2015 the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign’s withdrew Professor Steven G. Salaita’s tenured-faculty appointment at the eleventh hour of his hire over Twitter posts harshly criticizing Israel. The institution deployed a procedural pretext – the fact that the Board had yet to formally approve his appointment, a pro forma action usually – to revoke the appointment even though courses, classrooms and texts were already in place for the upcoming fall semester. Notwithstanding the procedural pretext, administrators made their reasoning transparent: the tweets elicited concern that Professor Salaita did not meet some unspecified qualifications that might be summed up as fit with the institution. Thus, the institution cited no specific policy on social media or otherwise in withdrawing the appointment. Professor Salaita subsequently objected to this treatment and has since brought a case against the university for violating constitutional free speech and due process rights as well as breach of contract.  In a procedural twist of his own, Salaita added John Doe defendants: people whom he alleges prejudiced his case among Board members. Salaita was successful in a separate motion for the disclosure of emails that go to the identification of potential defendants in the John Doe aspect of his claim.

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