Report: UIUC Wise to send Salaita file to Board

THERE HAVE BEEN SUBSEQUENT REPORTS I HAVE RECEIVED FROM UIUC INDICATING THE CHANCELLOR MAY NOT BE SENDING PROFESSOR SALAITA’S DOSSIER TO BOT. I KNOW IN THIS BUSINESS WHEN TO HEDGE. HENCE THE WORD “REPORT” AND “IT HAS BEEN REPORTED.”  IT WOULD NOT SURPRISE ME IF THE STUDENT BELIEVED THIS TO BE THE CASE, OR WAS TOLD IT WOULD HAPPEN, AND THEN IT WAS RETRACTED VIA FACULTY CONTACTS. I THINK AS THE ‘WE ARE FINKLESTEIN’ STUDENT MASS SUPPORT DURING HIS TENURE TRAVESTY AT DEPAUL, THAT UIUC STUDENTS SHOULD BE PRAISED AND HONOURED FOR THEIR COURAGE AND COMMITMENT TO CRITICAL THINKING AND HUMAN DECENCY.

It has been reported that Chancellor Phyllis M. Wise is going to forward Professor Steven Salaita’s file to the University of Illinois Board of Trustees for their September 11, 2014 meeting. This was first revealed on the online Gender and Women Studies News where they summarise their communication with the chancellor. I am reproducing the entire analysis that these brave and sophisticated students have presented in their support of Professor Salaita’s appointment. It is fitting that any movement toward resolution would result from dialogue between students and the administration.

It was the gratuitous charge that Professor Salaita’s tweets indicated a lack of fitness to teach his courses. That he would demonstrate bias and persumably treat some students in a hostile manner that disagreed with his views on the Israeli/Palestinian conflict.

I see this as a positive development and quite possibly a reaction to Anita Levy’s AAUP letter to the administration which is usually the first stage of a process that could lead to a censure. I think UIUC has possibly realised that a reversal is necessary. I seriously doubt Chancellor Wise would send Professor Salaita’s appointment for board approval to seek, yet again, their support of the chancellor’s August 1 firing letter. They would not want to inflame an already tense and highly controversial decision. I believe it possible that the BOT will accept the appointment, perhaps make a statement that Professor Salaita’s tweets do not represent those of the university and allow him to teach. Here is the GWS statement:

GWS students organize to Support Salaita

GWS Student Stephanie Skora reads student letter of concerns at Board of Trustees meeting

Updated 9/1/2014, 8:00 pm central time :

From GWS Undergraduate Stephanie Skora’s report back on meeting with Chancellor Wise on Monday, September 1, 2014:

“The meeting with Chancellor Wise was a success, and we have gained some valuable information and commitments from the Chancellor!

We have discovered that the Chancellor HAS FORWARDED Professor Salaita’s appointment to the Board of Trustees, and they will be voting on his appointment during the Board of Trustees Meeting on September 11th, on the UIUC campus! Our immediate future organizational efforts will focus around speaking at, and appearing at, this Board of Trustees meeting. We will be attempting to appear during the public comment section of the Board of Trustees meeting, as well as secure a longer presentation to educate them on the issues about which Professor Salaita tweeted. Additionally, we are going to attempt to ensure that the Board of Trustees consults with a cultural expert on Palestine, who can explain and educate them about the issues and the context surrounding Professor Salaita’s tweets. It has been made clear to us that the politics of the Board of Trustees is being allowed to dictate the course of the University, and that the misinformation and personal views of the members of the Board are being allowed to tell the students who is allowed to teach us, regardless of who we say that we want as our educators. We will not let this go unchallenged.

Additionally, Chancellor Wise has agreed to several parts of our demands, and has agreed upon a timeline under which she will take steps to address them. The ball is currently in her court, but we take her agreements as a gesture of good faith and of an attempt to rebuild trust between the University administration and the student body. She has not agreed unilaterally to our demands, and but we have made an important first step in our commitment to reinstating Professor Salaita. In terms of his actual reinstatement, the power to make that decision is not hers. This is why we have shifted the target of our efforts to the Board of Trustees, because they alone have the power to reinstate and approve Professor Salaita’s appointment at the University. In regards to the rest of our demands, which we have updated to reflect the town hall meeting, we have made progress on all of those, but continue to emphasize that it is unacceptable to meet any of our demands without first reinstating Professor Salaita.

We have made progress, but we all have a LOT of work left to do. We must organize, write to the Board of Trustees, and make our voices and our presences known. We will not be silent on September 11th, and we will not stop in our efforts to reinstate Professor Salaita, regardless of what the Board of Trustees decides.

Please keep organizing, please keep making your voices heard, and please‪#‎supportSalaita‬!

Also, feel free to message or comment with any questions, comments, or concerns.”

Gender and Women’s Studies (GWS) students are involved in organizing efforts to voice their concern over the firing of Steven Salaita in August. Professor Steven Salaita’s appointment at the Department of American Indian Studies was rescinded by a top administrative officer. Protests among scholars around the country have led to a nation wide academic boycott, and now graduate and undergraduate students at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign (UIUC).

On August 24, students from different departments attended the Board of Trustees meeting to voice their concerns and support for Dr. Salaita. Students of American Indian Studies (AIS) and INTERSECT grant students also drafted a Letter to Chancellor Phyllis Wise in Support of Steven Salaita that undergraduate and graduate students from different departments around campus have signed. Students have coordinated a Town Hall Meeting on Friday, August 29th 7:30 to 9:30 at the Wesley Foundation at UIUC, and a meeting with Chancellor Wise on Monday, August 1.

GWS Undergraduate Matt Speck, one of the organizers, said about the efforts: “Our efforts on campus work in conjunction with faculty and scholarly protests to hold the administration of UIUC publicly accountable for the uncivil treatment of not only Professor Steven Salaita but also his family, his department, and his students.  This is only another in a long line of injustices committed against both the faculty and students of UIUC (especially AIS) by campus administrators.  In order to provide a much desired level of transparency and accountability as regards the Office of the Chancellor and the Board of Trustees, we have taken to political action in solidarity with scholars both on campus and transnationally.  We act out of obligation to the UIUC student body, faculty, and community at large.”

From the Student Statement:

The immediate reinstatement of Dr. Salaita as a tenured faculty member in the Department of American Indian Studies.

Full and fair compensation to Dr. Salaita for time missed during which he would otherwise have been working.

Immediate increased transparency in the faculty hiring process – as a public university, UIUC has the responsibility to make public all intended faculty changes as well as take public comment in regards to any change.

GWS Grad Minor Rico Kleinstein Chenyek, one of the students who took part in the action, told The Electronic Intifada that the university’s firing of Salaita was another example of the use of “a multiculturalist ‘Inclusive Illinois’ imagined narrative, rather than to promote diversity, to actually regulate diversity and the dissent of minoritized people, and in this particular case, that of Palestinian people.” Follow Rico’s Twitter account @FreeOfSanity for up to date information.

Stay tuned for more updates on our amazing GWS students!

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