U of Illinois censured for cancelling professor’s job over anti-Semitic tweets

Marcy Oster

(JTA) — A national professors’ organization voted to censure the University of Illinois for rescinding the appointment of Steven Salaita over anti-Semitic tweets.

The American Association of University Professors released a report in April that found that the University of Illinois violated the principles of academic freedom and tenure in rescinding the Salaita ‘s appointment over anti-Semitic tweets. The vote on censure took place on Saturday at the association’s annual meeting in Washington D.C.

An AAUP censure is a relatively rare condemnation that can damage a university’s reputation in the academic world, according to the Associated Press. There are currently 56 institutions of higher learning on the association’s censure list.

The university had announced last summer that Salaita would be joining the faculty. Chancellor Phyllis Wise later revoked the appointment after being made aware of tweets by Salaita attacking Israel and its U.S. supporters in harsh language.

The tweets, which appeared on Salaita’s personal Twitter account, were posted during Israel’s operation in Gaza last summer.

Donors to the university reportedly had complained about the tweets and called on the university to rescind the appointment.

Salaita has filed a lawsuit against the university, the board of trustees and several administrators claiming that they violated his constitutional rights, including to free speech and due process. He also is suing for breach of contract and for intentional emotional distress. Salaita is seeking compensation and for the job tenured professor in the American Indian studies department.

Yeshiva University was removed from the association’s censure list during Saturday’s voting.

Yeshiva University had been on the list due to policies and practices on providing reasons for nonreappointment and review of these by a faculty body.

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