Was it his politics or his uncivil behavior?
According to this report from Inside Higher Education, Steven Salaita - formerly a controversial English professor at Virginia Tech - was offered a new tenured job in the American Indian studies program at the University of Illinois. As with most offers, it was conditional on approval from Board. The Board apparently will not even take a vote because Chancellor Phyllis Wise has announced the University will not be presenting his name for a vote. The reason for this sudden change in plans? From Inside Higher Ed:
The sources familiar with the university's decision say that concern grew over the tone of his comments on Twitter about Israel's policies in Gaza. While many academics at Illinois and elsewhere are deeply critical of Israel, Salaita's tweets have struck some as crossing a line into uncivil behavior.
For instance, there is this tweet: "At this point, if Netanyahu appeared on TV with a necklace made from the teeth of Palestinian children, would anybody be surprised? #Gaza." Or this one: "By eagerly conflating Jewishness and Israel, Zionists are partly responsible when people say antisemitic shit in response to Israeli terror." Or this one: "Zionists, take responsibility: if your dream of an ethnocratic Israel is worth the murder of children, just fucking own it already."
Since Salaita did not yet have tenure at Illinois, is this just a case study of why tenure matters? Is former AAUP President Cary Nelson right in backing the Chancellor's decision, arguing:
"I ... do not know of another search committee that had to confront a case where the subject matter of academic publications overlaps with a loathsome and foul-mouthed presence in social media. I doubt if the search committee felt equipped to deal with the implications for the campus and its students."
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