Over 1,200 Scholars Boycott University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign Until Professor Steven Salaita Reinstated

August 18, 2014
Jordana Rosenberg, mutinyandbounty@gmail.com
Jess Ghannam, jess.ghannam@gmail.com
David Palumbo-Liu, djpl.2008@gmail.com
salaitaURBANA-CHAMPAIGN – A petition signed by over 1,200 scholars in diverse fields was submitted today to Chancellor Phyllis Wise and the Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. The signatories have refused to speak or lecture at UIUC until Dr. Steven Salaita is reinstated in his position.
Salaita, a leading scholar in comparative ethnic, Arab American, indigenous, and American studies had been offered an appointment, with tenure, as Associate Professor in the College’s American Indian Studies program. After he accepted the position, resigned his previous tenured position at Virginia Tech, and prepared to relocate his family to UIUC, Wise abruptly and unilaterally withdrew his appointment because of his commentary on Israel’s war on Gaza, Palestine on Twitter. The University’s Board of Trustees is scheduled to meet today.
“Well over 1,200 signatures from around the world have poured in — and the petition has only been online for five days.  What is clear to the global academic community is that the Chancellor of Illinois Urbana-Champaign’s egregious violation of Professor Salaita”s First Amendment rights to free speech; academic freedom; and due process as an employee under both the law and University bylaws, has made UIUC an outlier.  In transgressing a bedrock principle of the First Amendment, UIUC has engaged in viewpoint discrimination against Steven Salaita, sending a chilling message to the faculty, staff and students of the University of Illinois that academic freedom and free speech are under surveillance and subject to punishment at the Urbana-Champaign campus. The only honorable course of action would be to reinstate Steven Salaita, and to hold open discussion at the campus of anti-Arab racism and the protected rights of Palestinian, Arabs, and their supporters to free speech,” said Jordana Rosenberg, an associate professor at the University of Massachussetts, Amherst and a member of the Organizing Collective of the US Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (USACBI).
The petition, organized by scholars of conscience and USACBI’s Organizing Collective, builds upon efforts of scholars in various disciplines to express their support for Salaita. The officers of the American Association of University Professors and its Committee A in Illinois, the American Studies Association, the Arab American Studies Association, the Center for Constitutional Rights and the Committee on Academic Freedom of the Middle East Studies Association have all issued statements on the violation of Salaita’s academic freedom.
Scholars of constitutional law, sociology, women’s studies, communications, history, English, rhetoric and composition, political science and philosophy, as well as contingent academic workers, have organized statements in their disciplines in which hundreds more scholars have announced their boycott of the UIUC campus until Salaita is reinstated. Over 15,000 members of the public have demanded Salaita’s reinstatement, in a petition on change.org.
The full petition text and signatories are available here: http://bit.ly/SupportSalaita

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