When professor Salaita was dismissed it was not based on the politics of the president of the university; it was based on the politics and opinions of the board and more importantly the wealthy donors that many universities, no matter if they are public or private, are implicitly beholden to. If this were a private university perhaps this kind of exclusivity of thought and pressure from those associated with the university could be understandable. However, the university of Illinois is a public institution with the majority of its finances coming from the people of Illinois. On that note, the methods by which the university is governed and therefore regulated could use some examination. Now it would be impractical to expect state oversight of every hiring and firing that the university executes each year but clearly some guidelines either need to be legislated or at least prescribed by the state Department of Education as far as what a fieable offence is for non-tenured professors. Something must be done to protect academic freedom from the opinions of the few and the powerful before it gets to the stage of Dr. Salaita’s case. As far as the content of the tweets, there is disagreement and dissent over the treatment of Palestine within Israel itself and Palestinian rights and awareness groups are widespread across the United States, especially within universities. Dr. Salaita’s opinions, while they may be farther out than the center of this movement, are by no means uncommon or exceptional. However, due to the politicization of U.S. Israeli foreign policy any dissenting views are seen as fringe by the political class on both sides of the aisle. Dr. Salaita’s rights to free speech were violated by the university as a representative of the state of Illinois. Dr. Salaita has since settled his lawsuit and does not teach at the University of Illinois.
Dismissed Professor Steven Salaita Speaks Out