I have seen scanned pdf copiesÂ of the actual documents sent to Steven Salaita by the University of Illinois at Urbana-ChampaignÂ that range from his proffer of an appointment to the egregious notification that the appointment would not be submitted to the Board of Trustees. At this point, I am describing the stunning, hypocritical irony of this viewpoint discrimination case:
One can assume that each professor, upon receiving their written appointment letterÂ at the University of Illinois, receives accompanyingÂ AAUP statements that allegedly affirm the university’s commitment to academic freedom. Brian H. Ross, interim dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, included in the appointment letter of October 3, 2013 to Salaita copies of two AAUP documents.
One is the iconic, magna carta of the “higher law” in post-secondary education:Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â The 1940 Statement of Principles on Academic Freedom and Tenure
The other AAUP document included with the appointment letter was theÂ Statement on Professional Ethics.Â This statement includes the obligation to search for the truth:
Professors, guided by a deep conviction of the worth and dignity of the advancement of knowledge, recognize the special responsibilities placed upon them. Their primary responsibility to their subject is to seek and to state the truth as they see it.
The American Association of University Professors (AAUP) Illinois Conference Committee A on Academic Freedom and Tenure concluded the 1940 Statement was violated when Professor Steven Salaita’s appointment was rescinded based upon tweets that were critical of the Israeli disproportionate response in Gaza to HamasÂ rocket attacks on some of its cities. We concluded in our report that his academic freedom was violated. This is the specific reference in our widely disseminated statement:
The AAUP 1940 Statement of Principles on Academic Freedom and Tenure states in reference to extramural utterances: â€œWhen they speak or write as citizens, they should be free from institutional censorship or discipline.â€ It affirms that â€œThe common good depends upon the free search for truth and its free exposition.â€ While Professorâ€™s Salaitaâ€™s tweets are construed as controversial, the 1940 Statement of Principles on Academic Freedom and Tenure affirms the virtue of controversial speech. While the Statement refers to classroom teaching, the virtual classroom today has no limits. In 1970 the 1940 Statement was revised with new â€œInterpretive Comments.â€ Â The second Interpretive Comment would encompass Professor Salaitaâ€™s right to be controversial: â€œThe intent of this statement is not to discourage what is â€œcontroversial.â€ Controversy is at the heart of the free academic inquiry which the entire statement is designed to foster.â€
Apparently without any sense of shame, the University of Illinois included, as a matter of course, AAUP documents when Professor SalaitaÂ received his appointment letter only to arbitrarily violate theÂ same documentÂ eight months later andÂ two weeks before Professor Salaita was to begin teaching!