Follow the Money at the University of Illinois

by Corey Robin on August 25, 2014

Inside Higher Ed has gotten some of the preliminary documents on the back and forth between Chancellor Wise, officials at the University of Illinois (including a top person in charge of fundraising), and a high-level donor, before Wise made her initial decision to dehire Steven Salaita. There’s still a lot we don’t know about the external and internal pressure that went into this decision (though from my own experience with this issue I can only assume that that fear of external financial pressure was very very high on the part of the university’s administrators), and as the article notes, none of these emails tells us what ultimately prompted Wise to make the decision she did. Still, it’s telling that in the days leading up to her decision, she received 70 communiques (in one instance from a very high-level donor), regarding the Salaita hire, only one of which was urging her to keep him on board.

The communications show that Wise was lobbied on the decision not only by pro-Israel students, parents and alumni, but also by the fund-raising arm of the university.



For instance, there is an email from Travis Smith, senior director of development for the University of Illinois Foundation, to Wise, with copies to Molly Tracy, who is in charge of fund-raising for engineering programs, and Dan C. Peterson, vice chancellor for institutional advancement. The email forwards a letter complaining about the Salaita hire. The email from Smith says: “Dan, Molly, and I have just discussed this and believe you need to [redacted].” (The blacked out portion suggests a phrase is missing, not just a word or two.)


Later emails show Wise and her development team trying to set up a time to discuss the matter, although there is no indication of what was decided.


At least one email the chancellor received was from someone who identified himself as a major donor who said that he would stop giving if Salaita were hired. “Having been a multiple 6 figure donor to Illinois over the years I know our support is ending as we vehemently disagree with the approach this individual espouses. This is doubly unfortunate for the school as we have been blessed in our careers and have accumulated quite a balance sheet over my 35 year career,” the email says.


These revelations follow on the heels of the University’s announcement on Friday that it was sticking to its guns on the Salaita dehire. The basis of this decision, at least rhetorically, is this statement from Wise:

 

What we cannot and will not tolerate at the University of Illinois are personal and disrespectful words or actions that demean and abuse either viewpoints themselves or those who express them. We have a particular duty to our students to ensure that they live in a community of scholarship that challenges their assumptions about the world but that also respects their rights as individuals.


It’s a strange and strained position, as many have noted. Particularly that tender if rather solicitous regard for protecting the feelings of “viewpoints themselves.” Notice that Wise’s statement does not make any distinctions between tenured, non-tenured, prospective faculty, or students. It’s simply a statement that “what we cannot and will not tolerate at the University of Illinois are….words…that….” It’s a rather breath-taking assertion. In the words of University of Chicago professor Brian Leiter:

 

As a matter of well-settled American constitutional law, the University of Illinois must tolerate “words… that demean and abuse either viewpoints themselves or those who express them.” The University has no choice, both as a matter of constitutional law and as a matter of its contractual commitment with its faculty to academic freedom. Scathing critiques of both viewpoints and authors abound in almost all scholarly fields; it would be the end of serious scholarly inquiry and debate were administrators to become the arbiters of “good manners.” More simply, it would be illegal for the University to start punishing its faculty for failure to live up to the Chancellor’s expectations for “civil” speech and disagreement.


In many of my courses, I teach Nietzsche, who heaped abuse on viewpoints and the individuals who expressed them. So did Marx and Hobbes, for that matter. On the chancellor’s standard, I or one of my counterparts at the University of Illinois should not be allowed teach Nietzsche, Marx, or Hobbes at the University of Illinois: too disrespectful of other viewpoints, too demeaning of those who hold them. And “what we cannot and will not tolerate at the University of Illinois are….words…that….”

In the meantime, the boycott of the University of Illinois grows stronger. As of Saturday, we had over 3000 scholars declaring their refusal to engage with the University until Salaita is reinstated. If you want to join a specific pledge from a discipline (philosophy’s going like gang-busters; John Protevi emailed me after I came up with these numbers below saying that they’ve now got over 450 philosophers signed up) or wish to sign the general statement, here are the critical links:

  1. General, non-discipline-specific, boycott statement: 1402 and counting!

  2. Philosophy: 340. Email John Protevi at protevi@lsu.edu or add your name in a comment at this link.

  3. Political Science: 174. Email Joe Lowndes at jelowndes@gmail.com.

  4. Sociology: 248.

  5. History: 66.

  6. Chicano/a and Latino/a Studies: 74

  7. Communications: 94

  8. Rhetoric/Composition: 32.

  9. English: 266. Email Elaine Freedgood at ef38@nyu.edu.

  10. Contingent academic workers: 210.

  11. Anthropology: 134

  12. Women’s/Gender/Feminist Studies: 54. Email Barbara Winslow at bwpurplewins@gmail.com.

The university is banking on the notion that more than 3000 scholars boycotting it are the end of the story; we have to make it the beginning of the story. If you’ve already joined the boycott, get someone else to join. If each one of you did that, we’d double our numbers in no time. And if you’re not an academic but want to tell the UI to reinstate Salaita, you can sign this petition. More than 15,000 have.

Most important, it looks like Salaita is now going to have file a lawsuit against the UI. The university has time and money. Salaita has neither. As his friends and colleagues who are organizing a campaign to raise money on his behalf note:

Salaita now has no job nor does his wife who quit her job in Virginia to support the family’s move, no personal home to live in, and no health insurance for their family, including their two year-old son.


So Salaita needs our financial support; we can give it to him. Even a little bit. His friends and colleagues have organized a page where you can donate money to his legal campaign. Please click on the Paypal link on the right-hand side of the page. I’ve made a donation; please make one, too.

Lastly, if you haven’t read Bonnie Honig’s letter to Phyllis Wise, do it now.

{ 311 comments }

1

Lyle 08.25.14 at 2:01 pm

Thank you for the link to Bonnie Honig’s letter, an interesting and powerful take on this matter.

Here’s hoping the flames of outrage continue growing.

2

Gator90 08.25.14 at 3:17 pm

In view of my sometimes contentious involvement in previous discussions of Salaita in this forum, I would like to take this opportunity to state that I was mostly wrong. I believe he said some things that were ill-considered and deserving of criticism, but I have (spurred in part by commenters here) learned more about him and concluded that he is a basically good dude who sometimes gets overheated in a medium that is ill-suited for some of the topics he addresses. He is certainly no bigot, as I have intemperately and unfairly suggested. I think he should be reinstated and I have (for whatever it may be worth to anyone to know this) used my real name to so advise the University of Illinois.

3

PatrickinIowa 08.25.14 at 3:30 pm

I’ve just read “I would like to take this opportunity to state I was mostly wrong,” in the comments section of a blog about politics with the topic being at least tangentially Israel.

Wow. Good for you Gator90. I’m almost suspicious…

Carry on, all.

4

Joshua W. Burton 08.25.14 at 4:45 pm

I think it’s patently unfair and wrong for the Salaita family to have no health insurance.

5

SC 08.25.14 at 10:37 pm

Yes, wow. Thank you Gator90! (A rare thing to hear anywhere. You made my day.)

6

Tabasco 08.25.14 at 11:08 pm

Follow the money, indeed. All of this stinks to high heaven.

This is undoubtedly a naive question, but why is there no chance of Salaita getting his old job back?

7

christian_h 08.25.14 at 11:31 pm

Also thanks, Gator90. Clearly you are classier than I am, and that is a sincere compliment.

8

Lynne 08.26.14 at 10:52 am

This changes everything. Really, the whole picture has shifted with these revelations. Salaita is up against a bigger force than first appeared. Call me naive but it hadn’t occurred to me that the fundraising arm of the university had influenced Phyllis Wise as it certainly appears is the case.

9

Barry 08.26.14 at 1:01 pm

What I find interesting is that the name of this big donor is redacted, even though he/she made threats, and the university administration obeyed. Looks like we have an anonymous and unaccountable shadow administration.

10

Andrew F. 08.26.14 at 1:56 pm

I’ll sign a petition urging Virginia Tech to reinstate Salaita.

Is there one of those around?

Has Salaita inquired about regaining his prior position at Virginia Tech?

11

Colonel Blimp 08.26.14 at 2:09 pm

How sad it is that public universities rely so heavily on private donations.

12

Barry 08.26.14 at 2:16 pm

Andrew, we’re still waiting on your history of applying the same standards.

As for your alleged willingness to sign a petition, don’t bother.

13

In the sky 08.26.14 at 3:36 pm

I for one cannot wait until rich donors get to deny jobs to academics who they vehemently disagree with.

That’s my viewpoint and you may not demean it, bitches.

14

J Thomas 08.26.14 at 4:06 pm

I for one cannot wait until rich donors get to deny jobs to academics who they vehemently disagree with.

You don’t have to wait.

15

Lyle 08.26.14 at 4:16 pm

That’s my viewpoint and you may not demean it, bitches.

Fine, but I think I can get you fired for that “bitches.”

16

Bruce Baugh 08.26.14 at 4:20 pm

Andrew F is okay with Salaita being allowed to work somewhere as long as we’re all clear on the principle that a colored fellow simply can’t go criticizing those favored by his richer, whiter betters.

17

Bloix 08.26.14 at 4:43 pm

#15 – yes, anyone who disagrees with you is a racist. Of course, Chancellor Wise is Asian American. But maybe she’s just a bootlicker to her white masters. That’s the road you’re going down, and you are welcome to it.

18

Shelley 08.26.14 at 5:15 pm

Only one college administrator in a million can stand up to money.

19

Ronan(rf) 08.26.14 at 5:17 pm

I’m actually bewildered by the opposition to Salaita at this stage. Absolutely flabbergasted. Andrew F’s position is now that Salaita is too much of a loose canon for University of Illinois so instead Virginia Tech should be pressured to take him back(although Im sure he’s been replaced at this stage) Bloix has run out of ‘clear eyed’ oppositional nonsense and so has reverted to reverse race baiting.
Bizzare.

20

Ronan(rf) 08.26.14 at 5:18 pm

*bizarre*

21

Bruce Baugh 08.26.14 at 5:38 pm

Bloix: If I’d meant anyone, I’d have said something like “anyone”. I meant Andrew F. I don’t, for instance, at all think you’re a racist – I think you’re wrong about more or less every aspect of this case, but if you’ve said anything that would give off a whiff of glorying in the smackdown of another uppity subaltern, you’ve done it somewhere I didn’t see it.

22

J Thomas 08.26.14 at 6:13 pm

Ronan, it’s tribal.

Salaita is an enemy of Israel. He is not important enough for Mossad to assassinate him in the USA, but still an enemy. People who feel tribal about Israel feel he is their enemy.

You can’t expect people to be rational and fair about their enemies. If it was your enemy you wouldn’t want him to have tenure at a prestigious university, spending a whole lifetime spreading filth about your kind and calling it teaching.

If it was a white supremacist or a male supremacist or an anti-semitic holocaust-denier who said it never happened but it ought to, you probably wouldn’t be upset if he lost his tenure even if the circumstances were just like Salaita’s. (I doubt it would get that far, since he would have been rejected earlier. Except maybe in engineering.) But to Zionists, Salaita seems very much like a white supremacist or an anti-semite. He seems like an awful human being who should not be allowed to win at anything.

Tribal thinking can sneak up on anybody and take over their brain. I don’t know what to do about it.

I tend to think of my own tribe as the USA. But that keeps slipping. Liberals feel like the USA oppresses them because conservatives run the government. But at the same time conservatives feel like the USA oppresses *them* because liberals run the government. Soldiers are mostly far more loyal to the army than they are to the USA, and Marines are definitely more loyal to the Marine Corps than to the USA. I want to be loyal to my country which hardly ever does what I want it to, but it seems like hardly anybody else is loyal that way. How can you be loyal to a tribe that only kind of pretends to exist?

I want to be loyal to the USA that I was raised to believe existed, with liberty and justice for all. But there’s something sad and pathetic about believing in a tribe that nobody else believes in. To be in a tribe that all the other members think of as only an opportunity to profit from….

23

Ronan(rf) 08.26.14 at 6:23 pm

I wouldnt support a scenario like this happening to any of those hypothetical monsters, personally.

24

Ronan(rf) 08.26.14 at 6:27 pm

I think if it’s a holocaust scholar denying the holocaust we’re into the territory of professional incompetence. If s/he’s just an expert on 19th centure French lit who denies the holocaust for some undefined contrarian/bigoted reason who had been offered the job, began to move and had it recindedat the last min, Id think that pretty obnoxious.

25

novakant 08.26.14 at 6:43 pm

There are actually quite a few countries were Holocaust denial could land you in jail:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Laws_against_Holocaust_denial

26

Andrew F. 08.26.14 at 6:52 pm

@Ronan – Perhaps the problem is that I am neither passionately opposed to, nor in support of, Salaita. I think that the University had the proper authority to decline to hire him, and that the grounds (the claimed grounds) on which they did so are reasonable. I also don’t think those grounds would necessarily compel any employer to decline to hire him, though. There’s room for reasonable disagreement on the question.

As I’ve said in other threads, I think it would be terrible were Salaita to lose a tenured position over this. Frankly I suspect he simply didn’t read the terms and that his contacts at Illinois didn’t properly communicate the extent to which the offer was conditional on the recommendation of the Chancellor and the approval of the Board. In consequence, he resigned his position at Virginia Tech before his status at Illinois was assured. This was a terrible mistake.

So I would sign a petition to reinstate him at Virginia Tech out of sympathy for the man and his family. It would be compassionate on the part of Virginia Tech to reinstate him, or simply ignore his resignation, given that he resigned due to a mistake. I wouldn’t sign a petition that the University of Illinois change their position because I believe that the University has the right to not grant him tenure, and that his mistake in assuming they already had done so should not foreclose their right to choose (if persuasive evidence emerges that they did so on impermissible grounds, I’ll change my mind).

@Bruce Baugh: You need to project a bit more indignation before you throw out the “you’re a racist!” card. If you’re going to engage in juvenile ad hominem, at least provide a bit of theater while you do it.

27

Ronan(rf) 08.26.14 at 6:52 pm

I know. I didnt have any input.

28

Bloix 08.26.14 at 6:55 pm

Baugh: Andrew F thinks that “a colored fellow simply can’t go criticizing those favored by his richer, whiter betters.”
Bloix: Hey! The person who withdrew the offer to Salaita isn’t white!
Ronan(rf): Bloix is reverse race-baiting.

That is, Salaita’s supporters are so obviously correct that opposition to him must be raced-based, and anyone who denies it is ipso facto a racist.

We have now reached peak epistemic closure.

But nobody’s called anyone Hitler yet, so why not keep talking.

Ronan(rf), my opposition to Salaita has been completely consistent. He’s a jackass, a juvenile embarrassment to the word academic, and a teacher who can’t be trusted with students who don’t agree with him. If he been given tenure at UIUC, well then, they would be stuck with him. But they lucked out, they didn’t legally hire him, and now – so long as (read objectively, which isn’t happening on this site) the email record isn’t too harmful on the 1st A issue – they will get rid of him.

The supporters of Salaita come in two flavors: the professorial prerogative protectors, who more or less admit that Salaita’s a jerk but argue that professors are allowed to be jerks, and the political supporters, who argue that universities need more professors who are hostile to Zionist students.

The first group makes objective arguments: Salaita was “really” hired, the Board’s powers are meaningless, there’s this thing I heard of an hour ago called promissory estoppel. I’ve demonstrated why those arguments are incorrect.

The second group makes advocacy arguments: Salaita didn’t say anything offensive and anyone who says he did is suppressing speech in an evil cause. I’ve explained why I expect that these arguments are likely to fail. But only “likely” – the 1st A protects jackasses, so if Salaita can drape himself in it, he’s got a shot.

What we now know, based on the emails, is consistent with the following:
1) Salaita said a bunch of disgusting and offensive things
2) the Chancellor was offended and disgusted
3) the Board was offended and disgusted
4) a bunch of rich contributors were offended and disgusted
5) some students were offended and disgusted
6) the contributors and students let the chancellor and the board know that etc.
7) the chancellor, confident she was doing the right thing, pulled the offer

And it’s consistent with:
the Chancellor really wasn’t offended and disgusted and decided to pull the offer only in order to placate the rich contributors – and now she’s lying about it.

Well, we’ll see what the facts show. I don’t think race is going to play a role. Baugh thinks differently.

But it’s a horrible shame that this posturing clown has become the poster boy for academic freedom, the cause for which the defenders of the academy have staked their sacred honor. Academic freedom is worth fighting for. Steven Salaita is not.

29

jdkbrown 08.26.14 at 7:00 pm

“Frankly I suspect he simply didn’t read the terms and that his contacts at Illinois didn’t properly communicate the extent to which the offer was conditional on the recommendation of the Chancellor and the approval of the Board. In consequence, he resigned his position at Virginia Tech before his status at Illinois was assured. This was a terrible mistake.”

After all this time, you continue to demonstrate that you know nothing about academic hiring.

30

Ronan(rf) 08.26.14 at 7:02 pm

my above was in response to 24

bloix – I think race (more than likely) had nothing to do with it, or with Andrew F’s position(which is more than likely driven by a deep seated instinctive contrarianism) But I think all of your points(primarily his professionalism) have been dealt with pretty conclusively at this stage.
Whether you’re right on the technicalities, I guess we’ll see(I dont pretend to know) Mine is more a normative preference; I think it’s an obnoxious and unprofessional way for the university to behave.

31

MPAVictoria 08.26.14 at 7:02 pm

“I think if it’s a holocaust scholar denying the holocaust we’re into the territory of professional incompetence. If s/he’s just an expert on 19th centure French lit who denies the holocaust for some undefined contrarian/bigoted reason who had been offered the job, began to move and had it recindedat the last min, Id think that pretty obnoxious.”

Nope, no, nine, no way. This is too far for me.

32

Ronan(rf) 08.26.14 at 7:05 pm

..although bloix,my apologies for the reverse race baiting comment,which didnt really make alot of sense and was unfair to you (although I think on the larger point your position seems to have it’s holes)

33

AcademicLurker 08.26.14 at 7:07 pm

a teacher who can’t be trusted with students who don’t agree with him.

As has been pointed out in other threads, there is zero evidence in support of this and abundant evidence, in the form of his teaching record at Virginia Tech., refuting it.

34

Ben Alpers 08.26.14 at 7:07 pm

Nope, no, nine, no way. This is too far for me.

It may be too far for you, but if we’re talking about a public institution here, firing someone purely because of a political belief unrelated to the performance of his or her job (especially if its expressed in an extramural setting) is pretty clearly a violation of the person’s First Amendment rights (as Brian Leiter points out). There’s no exception for particularly noxious political beliefs.

35

MPAVictoria 08.26.14 at 7:15 pm

“It may be too far for you, but if we’re talking about a public institution here, firing someone purely because of a political belief unrelated to the performance of his or her job (especially if its expressed in an extramural setting) is pretty clearly a violation of the person’s First Amendment rights (as Brian Leiter points out). There’s no exception for particularly noxious political beliefs.”

One, I am not an American so I really don’t have to care about what your, extremely flawed, founding document says. And two, I don’t believe that the first amendment covers speech that prevents a person from doing her job. If my job involves teaching people of welsh descent and I post a bunch of posts talking about how evil and stupid all welsh people are I would not get to keep my job. And rightly so. We do not want racists and liars using public money to spread their hate.

36

Bruce Baugh 08.26.14 at 7:26 pm

I will believe there’s a real principle at work here among Salaita opponents when I see them working systematically to get people like Glenn Reynolds and John Yoo fired, and when they work to block the hiring of up-and-coming professors given to fervor for disgusting causes on the right. It’s been a bunch of years since that bold crusade against Ward Churchill – just how much warmup time do y’all need, anyway, either to do something or try making a case that absolutely nothing said by any right-wing academic in the intervening time begins to warrant anything like the same response?

37

Andrew F. 08.26.14 at 7:30 pm

@jdkbrown: I’ve cited the relevant documents with respect to the University of Illinois, and have even cited documents from Cornell University (which has a similar procedure) that describe, explicitly, the degree to which faculty may sometimes think that higher approval is a mere formality, and why that thinking is mistaken. Perhaps academic hiring at your institution works differently. Or perhaps you simply are under the impression that it does because department recommendations are frequently approved. But in any case, the terms under which tenure is provided at the University of Illinois seem quite clear to me based on the language of the governing documents. If you think I’ve missed something, please, let me know what that is. I’m open to new facts.

@Bloix – Very well said, though I wonder whether you might be judging Salaita with too much certainty? Everything you’ve said could very well be true of him, but sometimes we write or say things in the heat of emotion that don’t accurately convey how we’d actually treat other people. Don’t get me wrong – what he’s written makes your conclusions entirely reasonable – and from a hiring vantage, a reasonable person might want to pass on the risk, but on a personal level, injecting a bit of uncertainty may not be unreasonable.

Regarding the email traffic, the reported redactions in the released correspondence deepens my belief that the email traffic likely holds little that would be harmful to the University, since certain redacted portions that seem to occur early in the traffic quite likely suggest that the University’s lawyers be consulted.

38

godoggo 08.26.14 at 7:32 pm

Well, I think it’s about time fore me to drop by with yet more Proyect links, these about acceptable racism at U. of I. Will these make it past moderation?
http://louisproyect.org/2014/08/25/he-passed-muster-at-the-u-of-illinois/
http://louisproyect.org/2014/08/25/chief-illiniwek/

39

Ronan(rf) 08.26.14 at 7:33 pm

MPA – are you saying Welsh people arent evil ; ) Anyway, what if you were found saying all Republican conservatives are evil ? Would that prevent you from teaching a class with young conservatives in it ?

40

djr 08.26.14 at 7:36 pm

jdkbrown @ 28

“After all this time, you [Andrew F.] continue to demonstrate that you know nothing about academic hiring.”

Maybe Andrew knows nothing about how academic hiring used to work, but presumably mid-career academic hiring in the post-Salaita era will be different. How it will change, and whether or not it will make the process smoother, is left as an exercise to the reader…

41

Palindrome 08.26.14 at 7:41 pm

@23: “I think if it’s a holocaust scholar denying the holocaust we’re into the territory of professional incompetence. If s/he’s just an expert on 19th centure French lit who denies the holocaust for some undefined contrarian/bigoted reason who had been offered the job, began to move and had it recindedat the last min, Id think that pretty obnoxious.”

I’ve met some academics who are respected in their fields, apparently with deep knowledge of subject matter, but who have beliefs concerning unrelated fields that are simply moon-bat crazy. And it somehow makes me wonder if they are actually as smart and knowledgable as they seem to be in their areas of expertise. Are they simply ignorant? Why don’t skills in marshaling evidence and logic transfer?

42

Gator90 08.26.14 at 7:54 pm

@Ben Alpers #33 – “There’s no exception for particularly noxious political beliefs.”

In what sense is Holocaust denial a “political belief”? Isn’t it rather a blend of willful historical ignorance and demented ethno-religious hatred?

If someone claimed that the history of “slavery” in the USA was a hoax concocted by black people to make white people feel bad, and that there were in fact no slaves, would you describe that as a “political” viewpoint? Or something else?

Mind you, I’m not saying people shouldn’t be free to claim that the Holocaust didn’t happen or that the institution of slavery was fictitious. But I sure as hell don’t see why universities should be required to pay such patently malicious lunatics to teach students.

43

Ronan(rf) 08.26.14 at 8:05 pm

@Palindrome 41

I dont think those within the golden circle know as much as we all assume, which is why specialisation is such a positive. If theyve passed whatever standards their professional subsection demands and have been greeted with two thumbs up across the board AND think the world is flat, I guess Ill go with the consensus(while remaining sceptical)

Put it this way; you have a very good, efficient plumber who thinks electricity comes from God and the welsh are evil. Why would you not hire him if he fixes your pipes up good ?

44

AcademicLurker 08.26.14 at 8:11 pm

@41,43: There’s a scientist in my field who does excellent work and is apparently a young Earth creationist. How his head doesn’t explode from the contradictions, I have no idea. But it doesn’t appear to effect the quality of his work and he doesn’t drag his beliefs into the classroom.

That, as far as I’m concerned, is what matters. If someone can do their job, then if they want to spend their off hours getting into twitter wars or publishing a newsletter about how the United Nations is infiltrated by lizard people from Alpha Centauri, that’s their business.

45

J Thomas 08.26.14 at 8:17 pm

#24

I think if it’s a holocaust scholar denying the holocaust we’re into the territory of professional incompetence.

What if instead it’s someone who thinks that not so many Jews died in the death camps because large numbers of people suspected of being Jewish did not survive to reach the camps.

That some particular gas chambers thought to be used to kill victims with cyanide were not designed adequately for that purpose and were instead used to fumigate clothing etc, and the real death chambers were elsewhere, perhaps using carbon monoxide as so many other camps did, a product of internal combustion engines which was cheaper, safer, and more available.

What if it was not denial that the Holocaust happened, but denial that the Holocaust industry got all of the details correct?

Should that deserve a prison sentence?

46

T 08.26.14 at 8:30 pm

@25 @28 Andrew jdkbrown

jdkbrown has a point. Appointments are often board approved after someone starts teaching. By that time, the academic has given up the previous job, spouses have switched jobs, houses have been bought and sold, and kids have switched schools. This is the life of many academics when they make a lateral move. And it is one very important explanation for the strong visceral support for Salaita and the real feeling that he had a tenured job despite the language in the letter.

It also explains the reactions of Burke and Danby in a previous thread: even if you buy the conditional language it should only be used for the most egregious offenses – committing a felony or something similar. (The Hoffman and Dorf discussion discussion makes it appear that the board’s power does extend further and that the estoppel claim is difficult to win. Dorf recommends a 1St A claim.) Plainly, based on history, boards think the conditions for denial are very rare too — denial of tenure at the board level of either internal promotions or laterals is very rare. However, there is a reason for the very strong reaction from the academy on this issue. As I’ve stated earlier, I don’t think the board has forfeited it statutorily mandated charge to approve tenure decisions for laterals by the timing of their board meetings, but I can sure understand the reaction.

Finally, if it isn’t clear already, it should be. The real protection is tenure. That’s why most asst. profs keep their head down. If you’re going to get screwed for political reasons (be it personality conflicts, methodology wars, or positions on public issues) it’s at the department level where the vast majority of tenure denials occur. And that doesn’t even touch on the politics of the initial hire. The courts will sort out the facts in this matter if it doesn’t settle.

47

Ronan(rf) 08.26.14 at 8:56 pm

@45 – Is that a rhetorical question? Or are you just using my comment as a lead in to make a more general point ? Why would I think it deserves a prison sentence when I’ve implied above it doesnt and said such a person doesnt even deserve to lose their job ? However, if the person was known as an anti semitic crank then I’d just ignore the them.
Anyway, Im not gonna argue *this specific* point any more.

This captures the larger point

https://twitter.com/lukelewis/status/494077593755217922

48

MPAVictoria 08.26.14 at 9:13 pm

@ Bruce sign me up for thinking that Yoo should fired, shunned by decent people for the rest of his life and staked through the heart and buried on unconsecrated ground when he dies too make sure he stays dead.

@Ronan It probably would. Depending on how I said it. I am certain that I should not be a teacher. (And of course Welsh people are evil. Why do you think I use them as an example. ;-))

49

djr 08.26.14 at 9:55 pm

One question for those who do know about academic hiring: Corey mentioned on one of the other threads that Salaita got his job offer last October, to start in January, but the start date was postponed to August. 9 months is a lot of time for the Board to get round to approving it, and presumably covers most of an academic year’s worth of board meetings. Is it normal for a Board to take that long to approve or reject an appointment?

50

js. 08.26.14 at 10:43 pm

As ever, thank you for the updates. My reaction to this pretty much mirrors Lynne’s (@8).

51

Barry 08.27.14 at 12:29 am

MPAVictoria 08.26.14 at 9:13 pm
“@ Bruce sign me up for thinking that Yoo should fired, shunned by decent people for the rest of his life and staked through the heart and buried on unconsecrated ground when he dies too make sure he stays dead.”

The point is that mainstream academia has accepted his behavior (and the California Bar).
Same with Dershowitz. If only anti-Zionists are held to this standard,……….

52

Barry 08.27.14 at 12:32 am

djr 08.26.14 at 9:55 pm
“One question for those who do know about academic hiring: Corey mentioned on one of the other threads that Salaita got his job offer last October, to start in January, but the start date was postponed to August. 9 months is a lot of time for the Board to get round to approving it, and presumably covers most of an academic year’s worth of board meetings. Is it normal for a Board to take that long to approve or reject an appointment?”

Well, if it’s a ‘rubber stamp’, the timing doesn’t matter, does it?

If it’s not a rubber stamp, then the timing does matter – in real jobs, you don’t start work until you are actually hired. Based on that, UI’s position is that Sailaita would have been drawing a salary, teaching and grading courses, sitting on committees making decisions (admission, advancement to candidacy, approval/rejection of dissertations) and spending university funding for months before being ‘really’ hired.

53

J Thomas 08.27.14 at 12:42 am

Well, if it’s a ‘rubber stamp’, the timing doesn’t matter, does it?

If it’s not a rubber stamp, then the timing does matter – in real jobs, you don’t start work until you are actually hired. Based on that, UI’s position is that Sailaita would have been drawing a salary, teaching and grading courses, sitting on committees making decisions (admission, advancement to candidacy, approval/rejection of dissertations) and spending university funding for months before being ‘really’ hired.

And the chancellor sat on the appointment through various meetings, giving no indication she wouldn’t pass it on, until it was too late to get board approval before he started work.

Did she have reservations before the tweets, or is that just her usual practice?

54

MPAVictoria 08.27.14 at 1:21 am

“The point is that mainstream academia has accepted his behavior (and the California Bar).”

Well I never did. I also don’t believe Sailaita should have had his offer rescinded. However personally deplorable I find his tweets. This issue is nuanced.

55

Colin Danby 08.27.14 at 2:09 am

I was skeptical in 2008 about going after Yoo’s academic employment, mainly because I couldn’t imagine an appropriate process by which an academic institution assesses someone’s extracurricular activity. I also wrote re Yoo that “going after someone’s job rubs me the wrong way,” which certainly applies here.

I’ve done a lot of academic personnel work in the intervening six years and it has confirmed my belief in careful and open process, clear standards, and good documentation. One of the things the IHE story makes pretty clear is that the U of I board did *not* have a standard process for reviewing and deliberating on hires: reversing one was a highly unusual event.

The IHE story says “Seventy people wrote to Wise to urge her to block Salaita’s appointment … Only one … wrote to urge Wise not to block the appointment. ” I wonder how that one person knew to write, because this end-run effort against Salaita’s appointment seems to have been quite stealthy (possibly on the advice of Cary Nelson, who admits to having been involved in the effort). Wise and the board were pushed into this position without proper review and apparently without Salaita having any chance to respond to allegations, something that is built into tenure processes, for example.

All of this chicanery has been thrown into the shade, however, by the subsequent decision by Wise and the board to double down and eliminate a big chunk of academic freedom at U of I: the new standard that faculty cannot “demean” a “point of view” — in any forum at all. This was Tim Burke’s point that those letters make a bad situation much worse. There’s now a principle at U of I that extracurricular political speech is a relevant criterion in academic employment. Imagine if you’re one of the hundreds of folks there coming up for tenure in the next few years. If a big donor doesn’t like you or your work on _____, they just have to argue that their point of view was demeaned by something you said, and they can do a stealthy end-run to the board.

Which is why, to circle back, you have to think of teaching, student mentoring, research, institutional service, and so forth as specific professional responsibilities generating documentation by which someone’s success in those things can be assessed. Otherwise you’re open to this kind of abuse.

56

MPAVictoria 08.27.14 at 2:14 am

“I couldn’t imagine an appropriate process by which an academic institution assesses someone’s extracurricular activity.”

Seriously? You can’t imagine some sort of procedure for deciding if providing a flimsy legal justification for torture, which was then CARRIED OUT, is a sufficient reason not to keep your job as a professor.

“Cassel: If the president deems that he’s got to torture somebody, including by crushing the testicles of the person’s child, there is no law that can stop him?
Yoo: No treaty…
Cassel: Also no law by Congress — that is what you wrote in the August 2002 memo…
Yoo: I think it depends on why the President thinks he needs to do that.”

57

mbw 08.27.14 at 2:28 am

Here at UIUC I thought perhaps this LTE would help clear things up:

In their recent MassMails, Chancellor Wise and the University Trustees, led by Chris Kennedy, have clarified some poorly understood points about free speech in the University and in the United States. Chancellor Wise explains
“What we cannot and will not tolerate at the University of Illinois are personal and disrespectful words or actions that demean and abuse either viewpoints themselves or those who express them.” Trustee Kennedy further elaborates “Disrespectful and demeaning speech that promotes malice is not an acceptable form of civil argument …. There can be no place for that in our democracy, and therefore, there will be no place for it in our university.”

In light of these clarifications, I would urge that certain texts often taught and discussed here should be modified to a form allowable in our democracy. Here are some examples to start what may be a lengthy process.

1. Admittedly this first example should probably just be dropped altogether, since the original quote is from an illegal group engaged in violence, including terrorism.

Old form: “He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people. He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.”

Acceptable form: “In our opinion he has at times exceeded the proportionate use of force.”

2. This next quote gives strong support to the corrections suggested by Kennedy and Wise to our old Bill of Rights, since the demeaning rhetoric of the old form led directly to massive bloodshed.

Old form: “Your wickedness and cruelty committed in this respect on your fellow creatures, are greater than all the stripes you have laid upon my back or theirs. It is an outrage upon the soul, a war upon the immortal spirit, and one for which you must give account at the bar of our common Father and Creator.”

Acceptable form: “You have not given full consideration to the feelings of myself and other people. That would seem inconsistent with the tenets of our religion.”

3. The viewpoint represented in the next quote is obviously irrelevant to our modern world, but perhaps still should be allowed if converted to proper form.

Old Form: “We know now that Government by organized money is just as dangerous as Government by organized mob. Never before in all our history have these forces been so united against one candidate as they stand today. They are unanimous in their hate for me–and I welcome their hatred.”

Acceptable Form: “At times money has led to what might be regarded as improper influence. I oppose that, although of course respecting those who might disagree.”

Once corrections like this are made to our old, unacceptable patterns of speech, we will be prepared to face the great challenges of our day.

58

Colin Danby 08.27.14 at 2:51 am

56: I am entirely serious. Your job as a professor is to teach the students, and a few other specific things, success in which should be documentable.

59

js. 08.27.14 at 2:56 am

The supporters of Salaita come in two flavors: the professorial prerogative protectors, who more or less admit that Salaita’s a jerk but argue that professors are allowed to be jerks,

This is a ridiculous assertion. It would be like me saying (a) Bloix is Jewish, and (b) his/her defense of UIUC is entirely informed by his/her Jewish identity. Now, I have no idea if you’re Jewish, let alone to what extent your Jewish identity—if such exists—informs your position, so I wouldn’t say this. Which anyway would be an amazingly unfair thing to say. By the same token, your utter refusal to even acknowledge that people objecting to Salaita’s firing might be moved by a sense of injustice is basically offensive.

I mean, look, coming from Andrew F., it wouldn’t be. It’s Andrew F. after all. But I’ve followed CT threads for several years now, and unless there’s more than one ‘Bloix’ who posts on these threads, I have some sense of your posting history on topics others than Israel/Palestine. It tends to be a tiny bit more gracious, from what I remember.

60

In the sky 08.27.14 at 4:01 am

Under the new rules, if a horrible anti-Semite were to speak at UIUC, would I be allowed to hold a protest sign saying “Your views are stupid”?

Remember when President Armagedjihad spoke at Columbia, and got ridiculed? Would UIUC now deny tenure to anyone ridiculing him?

61

Ze Kraggash 08.27.14 at 4:06 am

Anyone who dresses so overtly provocatively is asking for something like this to happen.

62

NattyB 08.27.14 at 5:31 am

@djr/49 — it’s been reported that he choose to delay his start date so as to finish out the academic year at VaTech.

We shouldn’t view the delay as evidence of “potential issues” with his appointment as he continued to tweet stridently through out the year (and indeed, this summer UIUC defended him stating that they respect their “employees'” (yes, they referred to him as an employee) academic freedom.

63

novakant 08.27.14 at 7:55 am

your utter refusal to even acknowledge that people objecting to Salaita’s firing might be moved by a sense of injustice is basically offensive.

I think the more prevalent problem on these threads was many people’s utter refusal to entertain the notion that critics of Salaita might be motivated by reasons other than fanatical zionism.

64

djr 08.27.14 at 9:10 am

Thanks Barry & NattyB.

I should have noted in my comment that the delay was for the reasons you say, and not any reflection of problems that UIUC had with Salaita. My question was is it normal for this sort of thing to be left to the last minute? Especially given they had this extra 8 months to get the admin and contractual details sorted out.

As Barry said, for a pure “rubber stamp” activity, any time is fine. If, as Andrew F says, Salaita shouldn’t have resigned his old job, made preparations to move, etc., in that time, then letting a 9 month delay become the standard is going to truly mess up the hiring process.

65

J Thomas 08.27.14 at 11:35 am

#63 Novakant

I think the more prevalent problem on these threads was many people’s utter refusal to entertain the notion that critics of Salaita might be motivated by reasons other than fanatical zionism.

I would leave out the “fanatical”. It seems like normal zionism to me.

I simply see no other idea what the objection could be.

What Salaita said about Israel and Zionists looks to me no worse than what Democrats and Republicans say about each other all the time.

What other explanation can there be except that zionists don’t want to allow such things to be said about Israel or about them?

66

Ebenezer Scrooge 08.27.14 at 11:49 am

I note that the sciences or engineering are not among the disciplines that Corey lists as signing the statement. What does this mean?

67

MPAVictoria 08.27.14 at 11:51 am

“56: I am entirely serious. Your job as a professor is to teach the students, and a few other specific things, success in which should be documentable.”

Well I disagree. Some views are beyond the pale and prevent you from functioning in a teaching role.

68

J Thomas 08.27.14 at 12:02 pm

Some views are beyond the pale and prevent you from functioning in a teaching role.

Many people think this. What varies is which views they consider beyond the pale.

There was a time when it was considered inexcusable to allow an atheist to teach.

More recently, there was a great big movement to get rid of teachers who were communists.

And of course there are wealthy or otherwise influential people who hate the idea of people teaching that are critical of Israel.

As times change, the idea of what’s beyond the pale changes too. Criticism of Israel is becoming more acceptable despite many sturdy counter-attacks by zionists. They make the occasional big public example occasionally to prove they can hurt people who criticize them, and so people who feel critical but who are not sure of their financial independence are cowed for awhile, until the next big public example.

69

sparrow 08.27.14 at 12:15 pm

@66: Possibly because the story has not made it out. I’m in a STEM field and only know about this story because I read here. Also, I’ve been made very, very aware of how inadvisable it is to have any other view than a pro-Israel one, at least as far as my colleagues are aware (perhaps a cautious and vague wishing for peace would be acceptable). I’m sure if you took a vote, our entire hallway, minus the canadian muslim guy, would vote like the US congress. Slightly paranoid? I don’t know, but I’m not going to test it out with my career. If I had tenure, I would probably sign.

70

Corey Robin 08.27.14 at 12:29 pm

Ebenezer: As it happens a boycott statements for natural scientists was just set up last night. Alan Sokal has put out a call, and John Protevi is hosting it at his site.

http://proteviblog.typepad.com/protevi/2014/08/boycott-uiuc-pledge-for-natural-scientists.html

71

Barry 08.27.14 at 1:04 pm

In the sky 08.27.14 at 4:01 am
“Under the new rules, if a horrible anti-Semite were to speak at UIUC, would I be allowed to hold a protest sign saying “Your views are stupid”?”

(1) No anti-Semite would be allowed to speak there.
(2) If they were, you’d be allowed to hold up whatever sign you wished, since it’d be interpreted as pro-Israel.

72

Barry 08.27.14 at 1:08 pm

Colin Danby 08.27.14 at 2:09 am
“I was skeptical in 2008 about going after Yoo’s academic employment, mainly because I couldn’t imagine an appropriate process by which an academic institution assesses someone’s extracurricular activity. I also wrote re Yoo that “going after someone’s job rubs me the wrong way,” which certainly applies here.”

‘Extracurricular activity’ is not really a good word here.

The difference is that law professors have to be members of a bar, which has (or rather, had) ethical standards. Conspiracy to torture and murder prisoners in violation of US law, US treaties and international law should violate those standards.

An analogous situation would be if Josef Menegele’s actions during WWII only came to light in 1950, when he was a tenured professor at University of X Medical School.

73

bi-state curious 08.27.14 at 1:20 pm

J Thomas, what’s your operating definition of Zionism?

74

MPAVictoria 08.27.14 at 1:25 pm

“Many people think this. What varies is which views they consider beyond the pale.

There was a time when it was considered inexcusable to allow an atheist to teach.

More recently, there was a great big movement to get rid of teachers who were communists.

And of course there are wealthy or otherwise influential people who hate the idea of people teaching that are critical of Israel.”

Moral relativism. You can do better.

75

ZM 08.27.14 at 1:37 pm

MPAVictoria,

J Thomas has said he is a moral relativist but he also thinks some things are right. I have tried to say that this is contradictory, and people are not likely to be convinced of his conviction about the moral rightness of some things (anti wage-slavery reforms) when he also pronounces that morality is relative. But he did not see any contradiction.

76

MPAVictoria 08.27.14 at 1:49 pm

“But he did not see any contradiction.”

Wow. Really?

77

J Thomas 08.27.14 at 1:51 pm

“Many people think this. What varies is which views they consider beyond the pale.”

Moral relativism. You can do better.

We can discuss which views are really beyond the pale, and which views many influential people wrongly think are beyond the pale.

But in the short run what matters is not who is right, but who can enforce their opinions.

Regardless whether it’s *really* beyond the pale, currently zionists often can persecute non-zionists and it does not work in the other direction.

If you think that’s the way it ought to be, then you can applaud them. If you think it’s wrong you can try to discourage them, but note that you might possibly be punished for it unless you can maintain your anonymity.

78

ZM 08.27.14 at 1:51 pm

Yes, he said since morality is relative, then he has just as much right as anyone else to propose some things are morally right.

I had not heard this version of moral relativism before.

79

J Thomas 08.27.14 at 2:02 pm

“But he did not see any contradiction.”

Wow. Really?

Yes.

Try this analogy. I can believe that there is no objective standard to decide what art is good art and what art is bad art, that it’s just aesthetic preference and nobody is inherently right or wrong.

But maintaining that belief, if somebody wants to put up a statue in my local traffic circle that I think is hideous, I have the right to tell them I don’t want them to. There’s nothing to say that I’m objectively right and the people who want it are wrong, but still I have the right to try to get what I want.

Or if — by the real objectively true morality that I haven’t found out about — I don’t have that right, I will try anyway.

I have just as much right to try to enforce my own morality, that I have chosen for myself and that may very well not be objectively better than anybody else’s, as I do to try to enforce my own artistic taste.

80

MPAVictoria 08.27.14 at 2:06 pm

“I have just as much right to try to enforce my own morality, that I have chosen for myself and that may very well not be objectively better than anybody else’s, as I do to try to enforce my own artistic taste.”

So trying to prevent a torturer from teaching is exactly the same as disliking a statue put up in a public park?

Interesting.

81

ZM 08.27.14 at 2:17 pm

J Thomas,

Well objecting to the statue on grounds of poor craftsmanship or that it is a bit ugly is different from objecting to the statue on moral grounds. What if the statue was celebrating a very bad person or deed?

We have controversy here in Australia sometimes because what to make of the colonial period is a matter that people’s views differ. I think we should not make statues of explorers involved in massacres, if we want monuments to the period they should not glorify or ignore the terrible things that were done.

“The ABC was sent a photograph of one of the flyers which was found on a car windscreen.
Headlined ‘John McDouall Stuart is a murdering racist,’ the leaflet reproduces passages from a book about the explorer by historian John Bailey.
One of the passages, from the book In Stuart’s Track, tells of the Scottish explorer giving the order to shoot Aboriginal people during an encounter at Mount Hay, in central Australia.
It also calls on the Alice Springs Town Council to remove the statue, which was installed in Stuart Park last week after four years in limbo.
The creator of the leaflet, Alice Springs resident Kara Dodson, says that she hopes her actions will result in the eventual removal of the statue.
In a statement, she said the statue was ‘blatantly disrespectful to the first people of this country’ and that Stuart was responsible for ‘numerous killings of Aboriginal people’.
“…notably the massacre at Attack Creek on June 26 1860 (Stuarts first expedition) and the Mt Hay massacre on March 5 1862 (Stuarts third expedition),” she states.
“These incidents as well as several others are documented in the popular and well respected book ‘Mr Stuart’s Track’ -by John Bailey, 2006.
“These are not made up stories- they are fact.”
Ms Dodson said she realised her description of Stuart was ‘harsh’ but that it was based on the truth.
“I think that if people knew the truth about this man, they too would feel as passionately as I do about it,” she said.
However, historian Stuart Traynor says labelling Stuart as a murdering racist is unfair.
“I think that’s an unfair depiction of John McDouall Stuart and the attitude he had in relation to his very few encounters with Aboriginal people during his three trips through the Northern Territory,” he told ABC Morning’s Nadine Maloney.”

http://www.abc.net.au/local/stories/2014/07/29/4056338.htm

82

Gator90 08.27.14 at 2:25 pm

J Thomas #65

“I simply see no other idea what the objection [to Salaita's statements] could be [other than Zionism].”

I oppose the continued existence of a Jewish state in Palestine, a position which I’m pretty sure excludes me from even the broadest definition of the sometimes ambiguous term “Zionist.” Though I have revised some of my interpretations, I still think some of Salaita’s statements were objectionable and deserving of criticism. Your presumption that anyone who fails to construe them as you do must be a “Zionist” is an odd one.

83

AcademicLurker 08.27.14 at 2:33 pm

I still think some of Salaita’s statements were objectionable and deserving of criticism.

I think you’ll find that plenty of people of various political stripes agree with this.

It is a much more limited group that insists UIUC was justified in violating just about every established norm of academic hiring in order to fire Salaita after he had quit his previous job.

84

Andrew F. 08.27.14 at 2:34 pm

T @46: Board disapproval might be rare – so rare, in fact, that some academics may feel comfortable assuming the risk of moving before a new position is confirmed. But, as you seem to agree, that doesn’t make it any less required or merely a “rubber stamp.” Moreover, I think most academics understand that Board approval (where it applies) is not truly a rubber stamp even though they may expect it.

Leaving aside the I-P aspect of this issue, the emotion from those opposed to the Board’s disapproval flows from repugnance at the idea that a Board of Trustees could look at someone’s social media postings – especially something like Twitter – find inflammatory or disrespectful statements typed without much thought, and on the basis of those statements, decide to reject an individual for tenure notwithstanding all the other factors (publications, standing in field, etc.) which seem like they should be weightier than a few off-the-cuff statements on something like Twitter.

I’m sympathetic to that reaction. And I understand why one wouldn’t want a group of – what did Corey call them (tongue partly in cheek, no doubt), corporate hacks?, dismissing the weight of years of research and work because they were offended at a few 140 character remarks punched out on a smartphone from the checkout line at the grocery store.

But, what you write under your name will reflect upon your reputation. If you vent on Twitter, your venting will inform the impression others have of you. That’s not always fair – but then that’s why venting on Twitter is almost always a very bad idea. All of us occasionally think of things we’d like to say, in the heat of an argument, in the flash of a reaction to an article or story, that we nonetheless don’t, because we realize that they’re unfair, unbalanced, and would simply aggravate others rather than add to the discussion.

Salaita is surely not the only offender here, and he is surely not the last academic applicant whose appointment may be rejected by a Board (or – let’s get real for a moment – by a department as well for that matter) because of “behavior” on Twitter.

85

Andrew F. 08.27.14 at 2:51 pm

One more item – I presume that Salaita could request reconsideration (or that he could be recommended, again, by the department and the dean).

Were evidence to emerge of Salaita treating those who disagreed with him on Israel respectfully, that might, perhaps, place his tweets in a context that would undermine some of their negative value. Ideally, moreover, this evidence, if it exists, should be brought to light as “new facts for the Board to consider” and not as “more evidence that the Board was wrong.” If you really want to change someone’s position, rather than merely mount a stronger argument, you almost always need to allow him an opportunity to change his position without losing face.

86

AcademicLurker 08.27.14 at 2:57 pm

82: In this case the board only weighed in after the chancellor’s decision sparked public controversy. Wise appears to have made the decision not to forward Salaita’s appointment to the board unilaterally and under the influence of a currently still anonymous donor.

So the entire process has been subverted.

87

Ronan(rf) 08.27.14 at 2:58 pm

I think there’s a little bit of arrogance at play here(which we’ve all done, god knows I have for sure) with non academics trying to tell academics about the rules and norms that underpin their profession.
Afaics(although there’s probably some selection bias involved) most people actually working in academia *oppose the university*, and for practical, professional(rather than ideological) reasons.
Should we not give a little bit more credence to people who are socialised into this career and who know it’s expectations and protections inside out, because their livelihood depends on it ? Who know what it actually takes to teach competently, do research to a high enough standard and hold yourself professionally ?Rather then people who, eh….dont?

88

J Thomas 08.27.14 at 2:59 pm

#80 Gator90

I still think some of Salaita’s statements were objectionable and deserving of criticism. Your presumption that anyone who fails to construe them as you do must be a “Zionist” is an odd one.

Sure, I think many Democrats and Republicans make objectionable statements that deserve criticism. But I wouldn’t say it should keep them from teaching, even in Political Science.

89

DBW 08.27.14 at 3:12 pm

@49
I suspect–although I do not know–that the 9 month delay in confirming Salaita’s appointment is probably because the board does this particular task of confirming hires once a year in the Fall, probably in order to include all new faculty, including those who have accepted offers relatively late in the process. Which would suggest a “rubber stamp” understanding of the process. As others have suggested, if we are to understand board approval as something more than a formality, something that can be lobbied against by, for instance, a pressure campaign from donors, the entire process of academic hiring will have to be revised. The very fact that the board would wait 9 months or more after an offer was accepted argues that the administrators at UI understood it as a rubber stamp.

90

Lynne 08.27.14 at 3:21 pm

@87
“The very fact that the board would wait 9 months or more after an offer was accepted argues that the administrators at UI understood it as a rubber stamp.”

Indeed, that sounds logical. As a non-academic, I’m curious what the academics here think a university’s reaction would be if a professor, having been offered a tenured position, to start teaching in January, said he would like to accept it but would naturally await board approval before uprooting his family, selling his home and moving.

91

Gator90 08.27.14 at 3:24 pm

@J Thomas #86

In #65 you appeared to say that “critics of Salaita” had to be Zionists, as you could see no other explanation for their criticism.

If you meant to say that Zionism was the only possible basis for wanting Salaita fired, you were mistaken. I have since changed my view, but until quite recently I supported the University’s decision, and I was no Zionist then either.

92

Barry 08.27.14 at 3:25 pm

“I suspect–although I do not know–that the 9 month delay in confirming Salaita’s appointment is probably because the board does this particular task of confirming hires once a year in the Fall, probably in order to include all new faculty, including those who have accepted offers relatively late in the process. Which would suggest a “rubber stamp” understanding of the process.”

As I said above, it seems to me that the university’s position is that somebody can be paid, spend money, and make decisions on behalf of the university, but not be an employee.

93

Niall McAuley 08.27.14 at 3:32 pm

Lynne writes: I’m curious what the academics here think a university’s reaction would be if a professor, having been offered a tenured position, to start teaching in January, said he would like to accept it but would naturally await board approval

I think we will find out when the University attempts its next lateral hire, unless Salaita has tenure by then.

94

J Thomas 08.27.14 at 3:33 pm

The very fact that the board would wait 9 months or more after an offer was accepted argues that the administrators at UI understood it as a rubber stamp.

A more paranoid interpretation is that they never intended to approve it.

By making him an offer and then retracting it at the very last minute, they punish him a lot.

That isn’t particularly plausible to me. They hurt their own university and their own reputations, and all they get is to deny tenure to somebody who was not getting much attention before.

I haven’t thought of a third interpretation yet, so yours looks by far the best.

95

J Thomas 08.27.14 at 3:37 pm

#89 Gator90

If you meant to say that Zionism was the only possible basis for wanting Salaita fired, you were mistaken. I have since changed my view, but until quite recently I supported the University’s decision, and I was no Zionist then either.

Interesting! Do you remember how you were thinking then?

96

AcademicLurker 08.27.14 at 3:38 pm

A more paranoid interpretation is that they never intended to approve it.

Speaking as someone who made a lateral move similar to Salaita’s a few years ago, I don’t think any conspiracy theories are necessary. University boards are just slow.

97

J Thomas 08.27.14 at 3:52 pm

Speaking as someone who made a lateral move similar to Salaita’s a few years ago, I don’t think any conspiracy theories are necessary. University boards are just slow.

OK, a third interpretation. They aren’t a rubber-stamp, they weren’t malicious, they’re just slow.

So by the time Salaita was fired, for the board to disapprove him they would have had to do it after he had been teaching awhile. That’s one possible explanation why the chancellor did it when she did, instead of giving the board a chance to do it.

How often does that happen? The slow board disapproves a hire after the start date?

If it hardly ever happens then they’re a rubber-stamp. If it happens enough that they aren’t a rubber-stamp, then that’s bad too.

98

AcademicLurker 08.27.14 at 3:57 pm

How often does that happen? The slow board disapproves a hire after the start date?

Basically never. Hence the fact that UIUC’s behavior is considered scandalous by the majority of academics.

99

Gator90 08.27.14 at 4:05 pm

J Thomas #93: “Do you remember how you were thinking then?”

Sloppily and with incomplete information. I felt some of Salaita’s remarks crossed the line into anti-semitism, and I’m cool with universities dismissing anti-semitic professors, as well as professors who espouse other types of ethnic, racial or religious bigotry. (After giving the matter more thought and learning more about Salaita, I realized that although some of his statements were in my view objectionable, he is no bigot and thus did not deserve his treatment by UI.)

100

AcademicLurker 08.27.14 at 4:08 pm

And to reiterate, the board didn’t disapprove. The wasn’t forwarded to them. At least from what is now known, the inappropriate actions originated with Wise and whoever this anonymous donor is. The board subsequently implicated themselves in this shady behavior by backing it up.

101

Bloix 08.27.14 at 4:09 pm

#65 – “I simply see no other idea what the objection could be.”

Do you have any idea how hard it is to fire a tenured professor? See, e.g., http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Denis_Rancourt

If were Chancellor Wise and I’d woken up to an email saying, “have you seen this?” I would have said, Jesus H. Christ the guy isn’t even here yet and he’s ranting and raving and dripping spittle all over himself. Are we going to be stuck with him for the next 50 years?

And the General Counsel would have replied, you lucked out – you can withdraw the offer.

Tenure isn’t the right to stand on a street corner and harangue the passersby. It’s a lifetime meal ticket. You’re supposed to have demonstrated that you have certain qualities before you get it, and according to the AAUP those qualities include the ability to “exercise appropriate restraint [and] show respect for the opinions of others” when engaging in public discourse.

A university can’t fire a tenured professor who’s incapable of restraining himself, but it can decide not to hire one.

102

Niall McAuley 08.27.14 at 4:27 pm

Bloix writes: You’re supposed to have demonstrated that you have certain qualities before you get it, and according to the AAUP those qualities include the ability to “exercise appropriate restraint [and] show respect for the opinions of others” when engaging in public discourse.

Without even looking it up, I can see where those carefully placed quote marks delineate what the AAUP actually say from what you are pretending they say.

103

Niall McAuley 08.27.14 at 4:31 pm

Sure enough, googling those phrases, you left out the important sentence preceding: When they speak or write as citizens, they should be free from institutional censorship or discipline

104

Bloix 08.27.14 at 4:35 pm

“without looking it up, I can see”
The images in the head trump the reality in front of the face.

Look it up, why don’t you.
http://www.aaup.org/report/1940-statement-principles-academic-freedom-and-tenure

105

Bloix 08.27.14 at 4:47 pm

Ah, you did. But you are very late to the discussion.

As I have said numerous times, a tenured professor can’t be censored, fired or disciplined for what he says. But before he is tenured, he can be judged on whether he is fit for tenure based on his ability to conform himself to the norms of academic freedom. And according to the AAUP, those norms include the ability to show restraint and respect.

J Thomas at #65 professed bewilderment that anyone could object to Salaita on grounds other than political disagreement. I have countered that you can object to Salaita on the grounds that one qualification for a tenured professor is that he can speak in public without gibbering.

There’s an argument over whether Salaita was hired – had tenure – or not. I have stated the reasons for my conclusion that he was not hired. If we was not hired, it is appropriate for the U to withdraw the offer based on the conclusion that Salaita is not qualified for the benefits of life tenure.

106

Colin Danby 08.27.14 at 4:52 pm

You folks want to be looking here: http://www.aaup.org/report/committee-statement-extramural-utterances

This more recent version explicitly addresses the kind of abuse Bloix wants to use the 1940 version for.

107

J Thomas 08.27.14 at 5:18 pm

#103 Bloix

J Thomas at #65 professed bewilderment that anyone could object to Salaita on grounds other than political disagreement. I have countered that you can object to Salaita on the grounds that one qualification for a tenured professor is that he can speak in public without gibbering.

I guess that’s possible. One can object to the stupid-looking grin on his profile photo, or the quirk of his eyebrow, or anything at all.

But at this point I think the most plausible hypothesis is that Wise etc had no idea they were going to object until they found out at the last minute.

And probably they did not so much object to the tweets which were not so different from his previous tweets, but to the opposition he created among donors etc. Which helps explain why they were caught so flat-footed, because that opposition started at the last minute.

So then, I guess it’s possible that the donors etc who wanted him gone were complaining about his grammar, and his spelling, and his general style. Maybe his politics were only a coincidence, and if he had written better and more calmly they would have had no complaint.

If you believe that I have a great explanation for Israel’s latest Gaza attack you might want to buy. It’s smooth, comfortable, and it gets great mileage.

108

Colin Danby 08.27.14 at 5:22 pm

I don’t want to get too drawn here, but it’s worth emphasizing that tenure is *not* a reward for inherent qualities as postulated @99. It’s about doing a job. This is what the 1964 AAUP revision on extramural effusions emphasizes.

To belabor the obvious: Process, standards, and formality matter, and they matter because they protect people who are vulnerable. You need clear positive standards for success in a job, and ways to demonstrate success in meeting those standards. In the absence of careful process, you get stealthy efforts to gather dirt, decisions taken out of sight, and people hired because they are complaisant and fired because they are outsiders.

So we need to be watchful when people try to shift criteria away from documentable success at the job toward hazily-defined personal qualities. I should be flattered that Bloix and Mpav think professors are saints and sages. But we’re not, and that’s a trap.

Re Yoo and the bar I yield to experts. But I do want to emphasize that process, standards, and formality sometimes protect bad people. The moment we start hunting around for ways to screw over people we don’t like, we no longer have standards, only cover stories. So re Yoo, go ahead and try to get the dude disbarred. But it still seems wrong to go after his academic job because of stuff he did off the job.

109

Scott Lemieux 08.27.14 at 5:33 pm

I’ve demonstrated why those arguments are incorrect.

No you haven’t.

110

MPAVictoria 08.27.14 at 5:39 pm

“You need clear positive standards for success in a job, and ways to demonstrate success in meeting those standards”

Indeed. So lets have a standard that says that advocating for the torture of prisoners is bad and should cost you your job teaching the law to students on the taxpayer’s dime.

111

Tom Bach 08.27.14 at 5:43 pm

There was a neo Nazi, of sorts it seems, fired from Fairleigh Dickinson some time back. No tenured, to be sure; but still, if one wants to petition for his reinstatement feel free.
https://www.google.com/search?sourceid=chrome-psyapi2&ion=1&espv=&ie=UTF-8&q=fairleigh%20dickinson%20university%20neo%20nazi

112

godoggo 08.27.14 at 6:10 pm

I really doubt there’s more than one person here who would be interested.

113

christian_h 08.27.14 at 6:29 pm

Tom, if that’s supposed to be some kind of gotcha it’s a more than a bit weak. As you would know if you had actually read some of the reporting on the case.

114

Bloix 08.27.14 at 6:45 pm

#107 – holy Christ, I don’t comment on your blog anymore, are you going to chase me around the internets?

Bloix – here are 6 paragraphs of legal reasoning complete with citations.
Lemieux – neener neener neener!

115

The Temporary Name 08.27.14 at 7:01 pm

116

Andrew F. 08.27.14 at 7:20 pm

Sort those reacting to UI’s action into four groups:

(1) UI rejection by Chancellor and Board was the only ethically correct decision (i.e. Salaita’s tweets ethically compelled his rejection) available to them in August,

(2) UI rejection by Chancellor and Board was ethically permissible and otherwise reasonable, but acceptance would have been as well, in August,

(3) Agrees with (2), but finds the particular motivations and/or reasons that drove the decision by the Chancellor, and Board, to be ethically impermissible, and therefore thinks that Salaita should be instated at UI,

(4) UI acceptance was the only ethically correct decision available to the Chancellor and the Board in August.

It’s interesting to see how many fall into groups (1) and (4), and how few seem to fall into (2) and (3).

Evidence may be unearthed that shifts me into (3), but currently I’m in (2).

Regarding academic norms and the timing of the Chancellor’s letter:

When did Salaita’s problematic tweets begin to appear? July? The letter from the Chancellor followed a month afterwards.

The question then is whether the “new information” presented by Salaita’s tweets was sufficient to justify the Chancellor to not recommend, and the Board to indicate that it would not approve, Salaita for tenure.

On the one hand, the harm to Salaita is magnified by how close the parties were, at that point, to Salaita’s start-date. On the other hand, the position is one of lifetime tenure, and the University is entitled to use every minute before it approves to evaluate the candidate as a potential hire.

In the University’s place, one might weigh the harm being done to Salaita by declining him at this point against the harm being done to the University by hiring a candidate, for life, that one now believes is not a good addition to the community, and thereby foregoing the opportunity to hire a candidate that one believes is better suited.

There are no truly good choices there, but the duties of the Chancellor and the Board are quite clear. If in their judgment of relevant qualities, Salaita’s candidacy is deficient, then they are obligated to refuse recommendation and approval.

I’d urge Salaita, at this point, to do three things: (1) mitigate harm by attempting to be reinstated at Virginia Tech; (2) compile evidence showing that you can and do interact with those with whom you disagree on Israel in a civil and respectful manner; (3) preserve your legal options with respect to UI.

117

Ronan(rf) 08.27.14 at 9:20 pm

Yes Andrew, you clearly are the one person thinking clearly on this issue ; 0

118

js. 08.27.14 at 10:55 pm

a tenured professor can’t be censored, fired or disciplined for what he says

Which isn’t what Phyllis Wise or the regents of the University of Kansas seem to think.

before he is tenured, he can be judged on whether he is fit for tenure based on his ability to conform himself to the norms of academic freedom

That’s not really what the basis of judgment is, but either way, Salaita was judged fit.

119

Blue Stater 08.28.14 at 1:30 am

If Salaita could demonstrate that UI had in the past let new lateral hires begin teaching and performing other duties of a tenured professor (membership of appropriate committees, e.g.) before formal approval by the Board, it seems to me that he would have a strong court case under contract law (if both parties behave as though a particular contractual relationship exists — it exists). IANAL, so this may be wrong; OTOH, I was an academic department head and dean, and nothing senior administrators do under fire surprises me. This has the stench of fear all over it. Wise should be canned for abject incompetence and gutlessness, but I’m not holding my breath.

120

js. 08.28.14 at 1:36 am

Moreover, I think most academics understand that Board approval (where it applies) is not truly a rubber stamp even though they may expect it.

Hm. Let’s see. Ad has been repeatedly pointed out on these threads, academics regularly resign, move cities, plan classes, and very often, start teaching before board approval comes through. You think most academics are utter fucking idiots?

121

T 08.28.14 at 1:53 am

“Moreover, I think most academics understand that Board approval (where it applies) is not truly a rubber stamp even though they may expect it.”

And this explains a bit of the reaction. I think this statement is true for internal promotions. While denial of tenure is very rare at the President or board level, it does happen.

But I don’t think academics think about this issue much at all, one way or the other, when moving laterally.

But in both cases they have a job for life on the state’s dime at a public institution.

122

Palindrome 08.28.14 at 2:38 am

@71: “An analogous situation would be if Josef Menegele’s actions during WWII only came to light in 1950, when he was a tenured professor at University of X Medical School.”

Well, Mircea Eliade was for years one of the leading historians of religion in the United States. There is now an endowed chair named for him at the University of Chicago. In his lifetime, he was greatly respected and admired. Yet it was eventually revealed that he was a member of the Romanian Iron Guard, a virulently fascist organization that was involved in numerous pogroms and murders throughout Romania. Maybe that’s not Mengele-level evil, but it’s pretty shameful nonetheless.

123

js. 08.28.14 at 3:26 am

And belatedly, I would like to give a big thumbs up to gator90, whose comments on this thread have been gracious to the extreme, and whose @82 I’d happily sign on to.

124

Tom Bach 08.28.14 at 4:05 am

Christian H: Not a gotcha.

125

Andrew F. 08.28.14 at 5:54 am

js @120: Hm. Let’s see. Ad has been repeatedly pointed out on these threads, academics regularly resign, move cities, plan classes, and very often, start teaching before board approval comes through. You think most academics are utter fucking idiots?

Start from the premise that I am not an idiot and that most academics are not idiots. What alternative explanation might there be for why some academics move to a new institution, lured by the possibility of tenure, even when the University withholds the right to say no until after you’ve unsettled your life.

126

Limericky Dicky 08.28.14 at 11:39 am

J Thomas – they’re not your employer. Thus, theory 2’s not paranoia, but ‘Machiavellian’ doxastic rebellion. Just saying*; don’t mean to annoy yer.

And Lurker – I too would eschew it, but not on the grounds you intuit†. Conspiracy thought’s not some final resort, like Cinders – just ask ‘does the shoe fit’?

*Tangential, spinning off from your comment number 94.
†Referring here to 96; the hundredth one puts in the fix.

127

Barry 08.28.14 at 12:24 pm

Palindrome, if you read my comment, you’ll see that I was discussing the case of professional ethics, as in John Yoo.

128

Barry 08.28.14 at 12:26 pm

Andrew: “I’d urge Salaita, at this point, to do three things: (1) mitigate harm by attempting to be reinstated at Virginia Tech; (2) compile evidence showing that you can and do interact with those with whom you disagree on Israel in a civil and respectful manner; (3) preserve your legal options with respect to UI.”

Note that John Quiggin has demonstrated (2). Also, I have never heard of (2) being requested from pro-Israeli people.

129

J Thomas 08.28.14 at 1:47 pm

#119

I was an academic department head and dean, and nothing senior administrators do under fire surprises me. This has the stench of fear all over it.

Agreed. And it’s understandable. A sudden crisis at the end of July, that required immediate action. Way inside the administration OODA loop.

Wise should be canned for abject incompetence and gutlessness, but I’m not holding my breath.

It’s only one known mistake in a long career. She doesn’t have tenure at the job, but that shouldn’t get her fired.

Although her action has caused considerably more damage than a few tweets….

130

Gator90 08.28.14 at 2:52 pm

Thanks to those above who have offered kind words. I feel kinda bad, because I publicly ripped this guy from my comfortably anonymous blogospheric perch, and he’s really n0t a bad guy at all. And I expect he’s been advised by counsel to keep his mouth shut, so he can’t even defend himself.

One thing I like about the blogosphere is there are a lot of really smart people out there who can influence my thinking about topics that interest me. So I appreciate the folks here who realized the injustice of Salaita’s treatment by UI before I did, and who took the time to dispute with me about it.

131

Scott Lemieux 08.28.14 at 3:32 pm

Bloix – here are 6 paragraphs of legal reasoning complete with citations.
Lemieux – neener neener neener!

I would have thought the thousands of words I’ve written on the subject makes clear why I find your arguments unpersuasive, but I would hate for you to be offended.

Let’s start with this: the question of whether Salaita was fired is not a simply a question of formal law. I think everyone understands that if you look at the language of the offer in isolation of the basic practices and norms of the profession — perhaps we can call this the “Halbig” reading — it appears as if the hiring process was complete. He might, and I certainly hope he is, be entitled to civil damages, but he might not.

Nonetheless, even if what UIUC did was within its formal legal authority, Salaita was fired and the firing obviously violates norms of academic freedom. UIUC apologists are asking us to believe that Salaita was not “hired” to perform duties he would have been performing for a at least a month before the pro forma approval went through. This is absurd. Salaita believed he had been hired, and by the basic norms of the profession he was. He moved quit his job and moved his family based on this expectation. Can you site a single example of a dean-approved job offer not getting the pro forma approval under similar circumstances?

He’s a jackass, a juvenile embarrassment to the word academic, and a teacher who can’t be trusted with students who don’t agree with him.

The idea that you can infer how someone teaches from her Twitter feed is deeply silly on its face. But the silliness is compounded in this case. If he “can’t be trusted with students who don’t agree with him” this presumably would have surfaced…at some point during his teaching history. But the letter justifying his firing, just like the hack apologias for UIUC, site absolutely no evidence based on his teaching and scholarship. A serious problem here, since under the norms of academic freedom these are the relevant criteria.

The supporters of Salaita come in two flavors: the professorial prerogative protectors, who more or less admit that Salaita’s a jerk but argue that professors are allowed to be jerks,

This, at least, is useful. You oppose the norms of academic freedom; you think they’re a racket. You have no objection to people being fired because the board of trustees disagrees with their political views; Coke Stevenson’s Texas is as good a way to run a university as any. Whether this is right or wrong is a matter of judgement; I evidently disagree. But Wise is claiming to support the norms of academic freedom. A claim that is rather undermined when she arbitrarily fires someone while citing precisely nothing about his scholarship or teaching.

and the political supporters, who argue that universities need more professors who are hostile to Zionist students.

[Citations of people who think that Salaita is hostile to Zionist students omitted.]

The first group makes objective arguments: Salaita was “really” hired, the Board’s powers are meaningless, there’s this thing I heard of an hour ago called promissory estoppel. I’ve demonstrated why those arguments are incorrect.

Again, you really haven’t.

The second group makes advocacy arguments: Salaita didn’t say anything offensive and anyone who says he did is suppressing speech in an evil cause. I’ve explained why I expect that these arguments are likely to fail. But only “likely” – the 1st A protects jackasses, so if Salaita can drape himself in it, he’s got a shot.

I agree that some of Salaita’s tweets were offensive, although it requires willful misreading to see them as anti-Semitic. Since I believe in the norms of academic freedom, however, I obviously do not think that offensive tweets are firable offense.

But it’s a horrible shame that this posturing clown has become the poster boy for academic freedom, the cause for which the defenders of the academy have staked their sacred honor. Academic freedom is worth fighting for. Steven Salaita is not.

This demonstrates a remarkable and fundamental misunderstanding not only of academic freedom but of the principles of free speech in general. People who don’t say things that anyone can consider offensive cannot be “poster boys” for academic freedom and free speech because the principles are not needed to protect them. “Academic freedom protects people unless they tweet some things I find offensive” is not a principle of academic freedom at all.

132

Gator90 08.28.14 at 3:49 pm

Scott Lemieux #130: “it requires willful misreading to see them as anti-Semitic.”

As you may recall, I saw them as anti-Semitic, which I have since acknowledged was a misreading. You now force me to consider whether the misreading was “willful.” I think perhaps it was. Sigh.

133

J Thomas 08.28.14 at 3:53 pm

I feel kinda bad, because I publicly ripped this guy from my comfortably anonymous blogospheric perch, and he’s really n0t a bad guy at all.

Well, but you read what a bunch of zionists said about him, and their selective quotes.

It’s very easy to get taken in by that sort of thing. It happens a lot, to a lot of people.

134

T 08.28.14 at 4:06 pm

Scott @130

One last try on the thread. The state says the board has to approve tenure. Boards and presidents sometimes, but rarely, deny tenure to internal promotions. Do you think the board has less say over laterals? Are all boards essentially forfeiting their right of lateral tenure review due to the traditional timing of approving laterals? Or, as a couple of commentators have suggested, with laterals, is the board limited from stepping in except for the most egregious acts — a felony or something similar? It doesn’t seem the state distinguished between internals and laterals when mandating board approval.

135

William Timberman 08.28.14 at 4:09 pm

Scott Lemieux @ 130

It’s a shame you have to work so hard to refute an argument so obviously made in bad faith, but I’m glad you’ve gone to the trouble. Bloix may take some temporary comfort from his braying defense of the indefensible, but the desperation evident in it tells us more than he’d like about what he’s really up to. Likewise with the University of Illinois’ administrators. They may believe that that the obviousness of their lies does them no harm — when power is sufficient to trump the claims of justice, this is often the case — but they’re mistaken. If no one believes you, all you have left is threats, and a university which willfully puts itself in that position is more of a threat to itself than to the victims of its casual injustices.

136

AcademicLurker 08.28.14 at 4:21 pm

133: As I mentioned upthread, I made a lateral move similar to Salaita’s a few years ago. When a person does this, they are undertaking major costs. Selling a house has all sorts of transactional costs associated with it. Moving is freaking expensive. Resigning a tenured position is giving up many years of expected income.

Because of the peculiar timetable of the academic year and the infrequent meeting of boards, academics nevertheless undertake all of these costs, but only because it was (at least until now) understood that the hiring university wasn’t going to exploit the technicalities of the law to say “Just kidding!”

I might expect that the university would refuse final approval of my appointment if between moving and the board meeting I murdered someone or committed some similarly serious crime. But because I spoke harshly to someone on twitter?

If that’s going to be the new normal, than the entire process of academic hiring is going to have to change.

Oh, and Bloix, promissory estoppel is not any less real because you only heard of it an hour ago.

137

Corey Robin 08.28.14 at 4:30 pm

T at 133:

All of us in academia know of several if not many instances of boards/chancellors/presidents overturning tenure decisions (not just to deny tenure, over the vote of the faculty, but sometimes to grant it, over the vote of the faculty). Since I’ve been at CUNY, I’ve seen it happen several times.

That’s why Scott asked the question he did (and probably why you and some others have consistently tried to dodge it by bringing up the case of tenure/promotion): Can you cite a single instance where someone gave up a job, rented out his house, moved him and his family halfway across the country, readied to start teaching his classes — not based on some momentary delusion of grandeur (Look at me! I’m a tenured professor at UIUC when in fact I’m in the psychiatric ward at Bellevue) but based on the fact that there was an official schedule of classes with his name on it — having that decision overturned by the chancellor or trustees?

The questions of chancellors/presidents/boards overturning tenure decisions are completely different. That happens, perhaps rarely, though not as rarely as you seem to think. This happens, well, never.

But this case is exceptional, you’ll say, and the rules were written for exceptional cases. And here you are right. It is exceptional: for it’s only the question of Israel these days that gets people who are completely qualified — on the basis of teaching and scholarship — blacklisted from the academy, without the blacklisters even having to pretend that they’re doing anything other than what they’re doing. In other cases of blacklisting, you usually have to come up with a reading of the scholarship or teaching record that puts it in a bad light; when it comes to Israel, you don’t need to at all. You just Dershowitz it.

You and the other defenders of UIUC can’t actually go after Salaita on the basis of his actual (as opposed to his hypothetical) teaching or scholarship. You just say: he says really mean and intemperate and hotheaded things about Israel, he must go. And he goes.

That is indeed exceptional.

138

Scott Lemieux 08.28.14 at 4:46 pm

*I should note that in post 130 I obviously meant in the second paragraph “it appears as if the hiring process was *incomplete.*”

139

DBW 08.28.14 at 5:11 pm

In a lateral move of this kind, the hiring university, I would think, normally would provide moving costs. If Salaita had negotiated with the department on this, and they had provided him with a budget to cover costs, this would seem to be another example of a presumed employment condition. To say “yes we will pay to move you for the express purpose of employing you” but “no you’re not hired” seems a little backward. What other institutions agree to provide moving costs without a presumption of employment?

140

Layman 08.28.14 at 5:42 pm

Gator90 @ 131

I must say I admire you, and I’m sorry now that I ever said you were churlish.

141

Gator90 08.28.14 at 5:54 pm

Layman 139

You had me pegged exactly right. At that point, I had figured out I was wrong, but was, as you said, too churlish to admit it straightforwardly. I am working on being less of a churl (what a cool noun that is — I’ve never used it before).

142

Andrew F. 08.28.14 at 6:14 pm

Two separate issues are being confused here.

The costs Salaita incurred as a result of his clear expectation to be appointed make his case a very sympathetic one, but they are irrelevant to the arguments that appeal to either (1) norms and practices of academic hiring or (2) principles of academic freedom.

If the Chancellor’s decision not to recommend Salaita violated academic hiring norms, then it did so regardless of whether Salaita had formally tendered his resignation to VT, or sold his house.

If the Chancellor’s decision not to recommend Salaita violated principles of academic freedom, then it did so regardless of whether Salaita had formally tendered his resignation to VT, or sold his house.

The academic norms argument seems to come down to: the Chancellor should only not recommend at that point if some horribly egregious fact had come to light (or was known but improperly considered earlier in the process). Salaita’s tweets may be offensive, ill-tempered, uncivil, but they don’t rise to the level that would justify rejecting him for tenure.

I happen to think it reasonable to believe they don’t rise to that level. But it’s not a clear case or an easy matter to assess. External candidates are typically less well known as personalities and teachers to the hiring institution, and consequently statements like those Salaita made on Twitter can carry more weight.

It’s not difficult to understand why the Chancellor, reading those tweets in conjunction with the emails she’s receiving objecting to his appointment, would come to the conclusion that she cannot in good faith recommend Salaita for tenure, which is a high honor and entails enormous commitment on the part of the institution she serves. Her view is also, in my assessment, reasonable.

As to principles of academic freedom, while they would be violated were Salaita hired by the University and then fired, he wasn’t. He was still being evaluated, and different standards apply.

Scott’s argument that he was somehow “really” hired even if not “formally” hired because he would have begun teaching before the Board approved misses the very purpose of stating explicitly the conditions necessary for Salaita to acquire tenure in the materials sent to him. Had Salaita begun teaching without a contract, then he would have assumed the risk that the Board might still not approve him – as do all candidates who move and begin a term before formally appointed. Usually this is not a problem, since a candidate who takes that risk usually has no reason to fear that higher approval will not be forthcoming.

But Salaita’s tweets occurred a month or two before he was to start and while still not recommended by the Chancellor nor approved by the Board. Even assuming that the University could obviate Illinois law and the written terms of the offer and grant him tenure by virtue of granting him classes and pay for a semester, it was not at that point. The University acted, in the time it had left, about as promptly as one would expect a University administration to act.

143

Scott Lemieux 08.28.14 at 6:19 pm

@131 — Well, let me offer a charitable amendment. I would say that on the part of someone who purports to know enough and have thought enough about the content and context of Salaita’s tweets to write an op-ed about them, it requires a willful misreading to call them anti-Semitic. Someone getting their information mostly from these op-eds may not be guilty of the same misreading themselves. So you not have been willfully misreading the tweets because you weren’t aware of the context (which is eminently forgivable for someone commenting on blogs, as opposed to someone writing op-eds.)

144

Scott Lemieux 08.28.14 at 6:23 pm

He was still being evaluated, and different standards apply.

He was not still being evaluated. He had been hired. The pending approvals were strictly pro forma, and again the fact that he had been assigned classes makes this very clear.

Usually this is not a problem, since a candidate who takes that risk usually has no reason to fear that higher approval will not be forthcoming.

No. Always this is not a problem. Can you cite a single other example?

145

AcademicLurker 08.28.14 at 6:26 pm

Andrew F@141: I’m not sure that the issues of incurred costs and hiring norms are as separable as you suggest. Academics moving to different institutions are prepared to incur the costs because it’s so unheard of for universities to violate the norms of academic hiring the way that UIUC has done. As I said upthread, if this sort of behavior from administrators is now “on the table” then the whole process of academic hiring is going to have to change.

146

cs 08.28.14 at 7:03 pm

Andrew F @141 – Lemieux already addressed this, but you seem to be pulling a bait and switch when you talk about “academic norms”. First you say (echoing another commenter) that the norm is that the hiring decision could only be reversed if something egregious like a felony came to light. Then you suggest Salaita’s tweets could also be regarded as “egregious”. Now you’ve made it seem as if academic norms include unhiring somebody based on their tweets, when in fact that isn’t the norm at all.

147

Limericky Dicky 08.28.14 at 7:07 pm

It was a misreading: inverted commas
Are clear (if one’s rudimentarily skilful).
But when they are used by Arab F-bombers
We might blame a bias that’s not fully wilful.

(To Scott Lemieux @ 1 4 2.)

148

Gator90 08.28.14 at 7:21 pm

Scott Lemieux #143

(WARNING: This comment concerns Gator90’s inner workings and personal issues and thus may be of no interest to anyone. Don’t say you weren’t warned.)

I appreciate the charitable amendment. I don’t know if “willful” is the right word, but I’m honestly not sure if I was acting in good faith.

I am Jewish (surprise!) and for a long time considered myself a friend of Israel. This affinity continued over the years even as I became increasingly uncomfortable with [fill in the blank]. After Israel’s recent Gaza campaign commenced, my horror at the atrocities caused me not only to condemn Israel’s actions, but also to reevaluate and completely renounce the very concept of Zionism. This has caused no small amount of tension between me and certain loved ones, who now harbor grave doubts about whether I am a loyal member of the tribe. I suspect I perversely took my frustrations out on Professor Salaita, and purposely (if not entirely consciously) gave his words the least charitable interpretation possible.

149

Gator90 08.28.14 at 7:24 pm

Limericky Dicky #147

Shit, you said it better than I did, and with fewer words, and it rhymed. Well played.

150

T 08.28.14 at 7:39 pm

Corey @136

Thanks for taking time to address my post.

My question was really a logical and legal question not related to the purported reasons given by UIUC. And I feel I’m beating my head against the wall a bit. In general, do the boards have the same power over lateral promotions as they do in internal cases? Is that power lost or diminished because this was a lateral hire with the accompanying timing and cost issues that we all recognize? (So is it possible that under current conditions no board can disallow tenure for laterals because every board meets too late.) You seem to think the facts have to be extraordinary in the lateral case. I’m not sure why. In both cases the board is conferring the benefits of tenure as is part of their statutory obligation. To put it another way, would a board have the right to deny lateral tenure for the same reasons they denied internal tenure which, as you’ve pointed out, they do on a rare and regular basis?

I’m just trying to square the statutes with the practice. The states clearly wants the boards to have final approval. I’d like Scott and others w/experience on the legal issues to weigh in. Please ignore if you think this is a sideshow. But there have been a lot of posts about the extraordinary facts related the lateral issue. And I think this has a lot to do with the general reaction. Maybe this has been answered in the estoppel discussion but I don’t think so.

btw — the head of the board is Christopher Kennedy, Robert Kennedy’s kid.

151

godoggo 08.28.14 at 7:43 pm

A (once) young man one wishes were slimmer picked
Crooked Timber on which to post limericks
But the main problem with ‘em
Was that they had no rhythm
His adherence to form thus was chimeric*

While to (guess who!), that mad would-be blogger, all
Of humanity bowed down to ZOG, or all
Of the Jewish part, anyway,
Give credit, he didn’t say
All that crap in the form (sic) of doggerel

*(sic) again, although it actually is a word apparently. I was thinking of starting the second limerick with the syllable “al,” instead of “While,” but screw it.

152

AcademicLurker 08.28.14 at 7:53 pm

T@150: Part of the difference is that when an assistant professor is going up for tenure, it is understood that the question of whether their scholarship, teaching, service & etc. has been of sufficient quality/quantity to merit promotion has yet to be answered. The answer will be determined when the promotions and tenure committee makes their decision.

In a lateral move by someone who has already earned tenure at a respectable university, the question has been answered in the affirmative already. There is no sense in which the hiring university is replaying the standard tenure process.

153

LFC 08.28.14 at 7:58 pm

T @150
And I feel I’m beating my head against the wall a bit. In general, do the boards have the same power over lateral promotions as they do in internal cases? Is that power lost or diminished because this was a lateral hire with the accompanying timing and cost issues that we all recognize?

Though I haven’t been commenting recently I’ve been following, more or less, the discussion. The issue is not whether the board technically has the power; the question is whether boards ever exercise that power in cases short of e.g. intervening commission of a felony. The answer is, according to those who know: boards never exercise this power absent intervening commission of a felony by the person in question. Therefore the Chancellor’s decision not to forward Salaita’s name to the board and the board’s subsequent support of that decision represent a drastic departure from the established norms of the academic hiring process. Such a drastic departure that their application here amounts to real unfairness. I’m not sure why this point is eluding you, as it seems quite straightforward, at least to me.

154

AcademicLurker 08.28.14 at 8:15 pm

To put it another way, would a board have the right to deny lateral tenure for the same reasons they denied internal tenure which, as you’ve pointed out, they do on a rare and regular basis?

On a somewhat related note, the issue of tenure being denied at the upper administration level is complicated by the fact that at some institutions this happens because of cowardice and shirking on the part of individual departments. They know that a candidate is not up to par, but rather than dealing with the unpleasantness of rejecting a colleague, they kick the problem upstairs. Not a good or responsible way of doing things, but it does happen at some places.

Obviously, no such thing applies in the case of a tenured academic relocating.

155

In the sky 08.28.14 at 8:25 pm

For those not familiar with universities, here’s a story.

Suppose a state trooper crossed over a national border in pursuit of a “criminal”. This is highly unusual. Nobody has ever heard of this kind of thing, or truly thought this could happen. State troopers don’t cross borders, do they?

Now, it turns out, that under certain circumstances, the trooper would have been permitted to cross that line. Such as if there had been a felony committed.

But there was no felony committed. Actually the ‘crime’ was protected by the First Amendment. Very routine stuff, if a bit stupid. Guy has no criminal convictions.

Oh, but the trooper is banging the guy’s ex-wife.

UIUC looks, for all intents and purposes, to be possibly breaking the law, certainly violating all norms and conventions that academics are used to, and picking on a guy their corporate donors don’t like. I’m amazed they haven’t already apologized.

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Andrew F. 08.28.14 at 8:32 pm

AcademicLurker, were one to issue a series of tweets as Salaita did shortly before one were to be considered for tenure, then I would indeed be cautious. I don’t think this will change academic hiring practices – though I think they should be changed.

cs, when I wrote the Chancellor should only not recommend at that point if some horribly egregious fact had come to light (or was known but improperly considered earlier in the process), I was describing a position some had taken, not endorsing it myself. I didn’t mean to pull a bait and switch. But it’s also fair to say that I didn’t clearly state my view on the “egregious facts” norm. My view is that the Chancellor owes her best judgment to the University, and that the facts need not rise to the level of an undisclosed, relevant criminal record for her to decide against recommending a candidate for tenure. Instead the facts should be significant to an assessment of the candidate for tenure, and she should take into account the judgments others, most especially the department and dean who recommended the candidate, regarding those facts. Where the facts require expertise to assess, she should be deferential (though not blindly so) to expert recommendations. Here, though, the facts arose with very limited time to consider them, and during the summer.

So I think it’s a very tough decision, made under less than ideal circumstances, but that it’s also a reasonable decision made in keeping with her obligations to the University. Worth noting that you and I can consider Salaita’s personal circumstances as much more relevant than she could have.

Scott, the manner in which the Board would communicate approval to the candidate was explicitly stated in the University’s correspondence with Salaita and forms part of the terms and conditions to which he was asked to agree. No reasonable person would think that being assigned classes for a term indicates approval by the Board of Trustees, or the recommendation of the Chancellor to them, and particularly not for an appointment to a tenured position.

That’s not to say I fail to understand why Salaita thought such approval would be forthcoming – only that it’s hard for me to believe that he thought it was in hand.

The events which led the Chancellor to not recommend Salaita occurred after she had received the Dean’s recommendation but before she recommended him and before the Board formally considered him. They also occurred mere months before Salaita was to start, during a time when many are away from their offices and work.

So the timing was such that the Chancellor and the Board were forced to take note of the new facts themselves, and weigh them, quickly, in deciding whether to hire Salaita. I do think there’s room for reasonable disagreement on whether they should have not hired Salaita on the basis of those facts. I also dislike many aspects of how this was handled, and I have enormous sympathy for Salaita. But as to whether he was already hired? I’m stretching to see a case here, and I can’t. Might just mean you see something that I don’t, of course, and perhaps there are facts that I’m not aware of here as well. Still, it would take a lot to get me beyond the written terms in the correspondence (including those incorporated by reference).

As to whether I know of any cases that match precisely these circumstances, I don’t. I’m less than certain as to whether that absence is significant, however.

157

Corey Robin 08.28.14 at 8:40 pm

T at 150: For the purposes of thinking about when is the Trustees’ or Chancellor/President’s vote pro-forma or not, there are actually three types of situations to consider. The first is hiring anyone to a tenure-track position. The second is the awarding of tenure. The third is the lateral move with tenure (which I would not call a promotion unless the person did not have tenure in the preceding institution or was moving to a higher position, i.e., from associate to full professor).

For the purposes of what you’re asking, it is the first and third situation that are most comparable. Not the second and the third. And the reason that’s the case is that in both the first and the third, you have a situation where someone is moving a great distance, giving up something left behind, incurring great costs, and ultimately starting work as a full-time professor — all before the trustees would vote. So, as I said either above or in another thread, I began working at CUNY in August 1999. I moved straight from graduate school. It was not until November 1999 — three months into my teaching — that the trustees approved my appointment. In the same way that I’ve never heard of someone making a lateral move, moving their household, etc., being scheduled for classes, and then having the trustees overturn the appointment, so have I never, ever heard of someone assuming a tenure-track position, moving, etc., and then having the trustees overturn the appointment.

I think the reason for this clear: you could never get people to do these things — i.e., move across the country, give up their current gig or position or whatever it is, prepare classes, and the like — without essentially destroying the entire structure of the tenure track and making everyone into an adjunct. (I don’t want to be read as condoning this situation for adjuncts; I don’t. But that’s a much bigger battle, one that many of us have been fighting for a long time, for the most part unsuccessfully.)

Now that of course is what a lot of universities want to do, but places like UIUC, which strive to be a top research university, do not want to go down that path. So they don’t. Technically, the boards have the same power in these instances of 1 and 3, but they have never exercised it — outside the extreme cases of someone doing something criminal, plagiarism, etc. — precisely b/c it would be so disruptive of the system.

There’s one other reason they don’t, and it also has to do with not disrupting the system. The assumption is that faculty, deans, and provosts — as the academic members of the university (a provost is the chief *academic* officer of the university, a president is not) — know how to make these judgments of teaching and scholarship. Boards don’t. To allow a Board or president to overturn the decision like this is to call into the question the competence of the academic officers of the university. Again, we allow it in cases where new information of an uncontroversially extraordinary sort — criminality, plagiarism, etc. — comes to light after the academic process is over, but only then. Precisely b/c those cases are so uncontroversially extraordinary.

Boards and presidents/chancellors do exercise that sort of power in situation #2, not regularly, but rarely, and that’s b/c it doesn’t disrupt the whole system of hiring in the same way that a Board overturning a lateral hire or a hire to a tenure-track position would. Also, as AcademicLurker at 154 says, there are times when we recognize that departments can’t do the right thing (whether that is granting or denying tenure), precisely b/c personalities and personal loyalties/connections have evolved. That’s not the case with new or lateral hires, where those bonds have not yet evolved (and in fact when there is evidence of bonds having evolved in advance — i.e., the spouse of a member of the department applies for the job — that member of the department is expected to recuse herself from the decision.)

The reason why so many people are upset in part about this Salaita situation is that the Board is exercising that power (of situations 1 and 3) in ways that push the margin considerably: instead of dehiring someone for a criminal act or gross plagiarism, which was discovered after the normal hiring process was concluded (and which no one would oppose a board for taking action on), they’ve now walked down the road of our friend, the hotheaded Mr. Bloix, that is, invoking a *controversially* extraordinary reason (harsh tweets, in a sphere — intellectual life — where harshness is often the coin of the realm) as if it were an *uncontroversially* extraordinary reason (plagiarism, etc.). That makes everyone in academia — not just faculty but also provosts, deans, etc. — very very nervous. And the fact that like our hotheaded Bloix, the Chancellor doesn’t seem to get this — the fact that she has brushed under the rug of uncontroversial something that is in fact quite controversial, and doesn’t even seem to realize that she has done so — makes us doubly nervous. I mean, when Bloix does it, we can excuse him because, put charitably, he just doesn’t know any better. And the fact that he’s powerless to act on that ignorance makes him harmless. When the chancellor does it, it’s a much bigger deal, b/c she should know better, she does have power, and that power threatens to turn her ignorance into the new rules of the road, which are very disruptive.

158

Corey Robin 08.28.14 at 8:49 pm

For those of you who haven’t read it, Natalie Zemon Davis’s letter to Chancellor Wise is worth reading. Not merely for what it says, but also because it captures, better than most, the norms and common sense of academia. I don’t expect the most hard-bitten in this discussion to get this — they have too much invested to understand — but Davis’s position here is really what most people in academia understand to be the norm. Wise’s (and the UI Trustees’) is really very much outside the norm. For those of you who don’t know her, Davis is one of the most distinguished historians of the last half-century. She was the president of the American Historical Association, she’s written ten books, including The Return of Martin Guerre, which was translated into 22 languages. She is the recipient of the Holberg International Memorial Prize (2010), National Humanities Medal (2012), and has been named Companion of the Order of Canada (2012). She’s the real deal.

*******

Dear Chancellor Wise,

As a long-time participant in the university world, I implore you to reverse your decision in regard to Professor Steven Salaita and now to recommend the approval of his appointment to the faculty of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

I write you as an admirer of the remarkable achievements of the historians, literary scholars, and anthropologists at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. I have seen the lively and creative exchange among professors and graduate students close up as an invited guest of the History Department, and cannot believe that you would want to jeopardize this learning experience by the inappropriate and misguided criterion of civility.

I write further as a Jew, growing up in Detroit during the rise of Nazism and the anti-Semitic sermons of Father Coughlin; a Jew committed to that strand in the Jewish sensibility that still places justice and universal values at its heart; committed to the uses of rabbinical and Talmudic debate, which sought truth by language not always decorous; and to the old tradition of Jewish humor, which put laughter and mockery to the service of helping the oppressed.

As a distinguished physiologist, you have surely heard “disrespectful words” among scientists as they argued the pros and cons of research. I certainly have, as I listened to scientists go at it on grant committees, including when the important subject of gender-based biology was on the table. If words thought “demeaning” were uttered, the speaker was not excluded, he or she was answered.

The role of vigorous expression is even more central in the humanities and social sciences, where we are examining thought systems and actions that range from the violently cruel to the heroically generous. What, following your Principles of August 22, would we make of the writings of the great François Rabelais, who used every comic metaphor available, especially the bodily ones, to plead the cause of those who had been silenced by the Inquisition or harmed by unjust war?

You speak of your responsibility “ to ensure that. . . differing points of view be discussed in and outside the classroom in a scholarly, civil and productive manner.” In the classroom: one of the exemplars of master teaching was the late George Mosse of the University of Wisconsin, refugee from Nazi Germany and historian of the rise of Nazism. His lectures were celebrated for his sharp affirmations and his simultaneous invitation to the students to respond in kind—which they did – and for what one observer has called the “cross-fire” between him and a Marxist colleague. Not surprisingly, he had good friends among both Israelis and Palestinians.

Outside the classroom? But surely one knows that “differing points of view” are being discussed by members of your large faculty all the time, using every kind of speech, some of it uncivil and disrespectful. How would one enforce your criteria at the University? By “speech-police” in every classroom, college restaurant, sports arena, and living room?

Since this cannot be your intention, I come to the case of Stephen Salaita, whose scholarship, publications, and teaching were reviewed and warmly approved by colleagues, specialists, and university executive committees. You say in your statement of Principles that the “the decision regarding Prof. Salaita was not influenced in any way by his positions on the conflict in the Middle East nor his criticism of Israel.” If this be truly the case, then what could lead you to overturn the well-established evaluation and appointment procedures of your university and (according to the commentary by legal specialists) even hazard a possible lawsuit?

Professor Salaita’s tweets in regard to the Israeli bombing of Gaza in the last months seem to have been the trigger: as reported in information obtained by Inside Ed, they prompted some seventy emails to you, including from students who, as Jews, said they feared he would be hostile to them if they happened to take his course. (What their majors were was not specified in the report.)

Indeed, some of Professor Salaita’s tweets were vehement and intentionally provocative: he used strong language both to criticize the deaths from Israeli bombing and to attack anti-Semitism. The lack of “civility” in some of his tweets is linked to the genre itself: a tweet is often an answer to a tweet, and a tweet always anticipates a response. It is a form of concise communication based on give and take, on the anticipation that the respondent may respond sharply or critically to what you have said, and that the exchange will continue. Thus, in his public political life, Professor Salaita participates in a mode that always leaves space for an answer, thus, extending the respect to the individual respondent for which you call in your Principles.

The classroom is, of course, the critical space for assessing a professor’s educational performance, and from all reports, Professor Salaita has been a very successful teacher and much appreciated by his students. Why not accept the careful and extended scholarly inquiry of your University of Illinois colleagues over the hasty and seemingly politicized judgment and fears of the emailers? Further, Professor Salaita would be joining the Department of American Indian and Indigenous Studies, which on its web site commits itself to “free academic inquiry” and “the best ideals of academic freedom.” Why not leave it to the professors in this fine department to insure that a new colleague fulfills the highest goals of teaching? Indeed, the practices of careful listening and full speaking are very much part of the American indigenous tradition. Professor Salaita would thus be in a setting where he could expect to do his best teaching and make the significant contribution to scholarly inquiry hoped for by the University of Illinois professors who have been seeking his presence.

I urge you, Chancellor Wise, to rethink your position and to recommend that the Board of Trustees give its approval to the appointment of Professor Salaita. This would be an honorable course, and one that would restore the academic values which should and can prevail at a great university.

Natalie Zemon Davis,

Henry Charles Lea Professor of History emeritus, Princeton University

Adjunct Professor of History, University of Toronto

159

T 08.28.14 at 8:56 pm

@152 153
Thanks. Just a factual question. Doesn’t the new school typically run through the tenure process again — hiring committee, outside readers, etc.? Also, aren’t there some laterals denied tenure (or see the writing on the wall) at a higher ranked departments that are offered tenure at the new school?

I’m not arguing about the perceived unfairness of the timing from the academic’s perspective at all. But the state told the board to have the final say on tenure. And the state is paying after all. The state might feel it’s not fair to let the school’s employees grant a job a life with their oversight. That’s not unreasonable to me. (And the idea that all laterals avoid the mandated test for internals seems very weird both legally and logically.) It just might be that the timing of board decisions in the future might have to change. Hence my questions.

160

LFC 08.28.14 at 9:11 pm

@T
Doesn’t the new school typically run through the tenure process again — hiring committee, outside readers, etc.?

If it’s “a lateral move with tenure” (Corey’s phrase, above), then no, it doesn’t. Salaita’s was a lateral move with tenure.

161

J Thomas 08.28.14 at 9:12 pm

#150 T

In general, do the boards have the same power over lateral promotions as they do in internal cases?

Let me put it this way. Imagine you have a job that you cannot be fired from. You are offered a job at higher pay, but they can fire you at will. How much more money do you need before you take the new job in place of the old one?

If tenured professors thought there was any chance that they were not getting a job but instead a bait-and-switch that left them without tenure anywhere, they would not move. They don’t believe it will happen.

What can blow the deal, is some giant surprise. “Did you hear about Bentley? He was found having a naked orgy with three co-eds, two high-school students, and a goat.” “Ouch. Hey, so his school will be hiring, right?”

So the question is whether Salaita did something which was so surprisingly horrible that it’s proper to renege on the deal.

In general, zionists say that he did, and non-zionists say he didn’t. But it looks bad to get a tenured professor de-tenured because of his political views. So zionists say that it wasn’t what he said, it was the way he said it. He could have any political stand he wanted — there are lots of tenured professors who have come out against Israel, and haven’t lost tenure yet, and that proves that they aren’t going after this one because of his views. It’s just that he said them the wrong way, too rudely. It’s a terrible, terrible crime that’s worth him losing his tenure over.

Apart from that there’s the legal question whether the university administration has the legal right to dump him. That will be determined by a court if it gets that far, and nobody’s opinion about what is fair or right or legal will matter except the judge’s, and possibly an appeals court judge. The contract appeared to say they had that right, but then have you installed any software and looked at the rights you agreed to? Most of them basicly say that if they upload everything on your disk to their own system, delete everything on yours, and use 100% of your computer’s bandwidth to spam, DDOS-attack, and search for passwords until you shut the whole thing down and install from scratch, that you have no legal rights whatsoever. They do not promise to do anything for you that you would want, they do not promise there is anything you don’t want that they will fail to do, but you promise not to figure out what they are doing or how they do it, or give them bad reviews. If it comes to a lawsuit you must pay their legal fees and you agree ahead of time that you won’t win damages worth more than what you paid for the software. Would that stand up in court? I dunno. I think most people who lose stuff that’s worth enough to justify a lawsuit are probably too ashamed to admit it in public.

162

AcademicLurker 08.28.14 at 9:14 pm

Doesn’t the new school typically run through the tenure process again — hiring committee, outside readers, etc.?

If the person being hired already has tenure, the answer is no.

Some times an assistant (untenured) professor will be hired away from their current institution with the promise of promotion to an associate (tenured) position at the new school. In that case, they go the normal tenure review process, just as they would for an internal candidate.

163

LFC 08.28.14 at 9:16 pm

In other words, if X is hired with tenure or into a tenured position, that’s that. X has tenure; he or she doesn’t go through the tenure process all over again.

164

LFC 08.28.14 at 9:17 pm

sorry, crossed w AcLurker

165

T 08.28.14 at 9:23 pm

Corey @157

Thanks again. I wrote 159 before seeing your comment. Great explanation of why situations 1 and 3 are similar from the academic’s perspective and I agree. And it explains why academics of all stripes are nervous.

But I don’t think 1 and 3 are similar from the state’s perspective. They see 2 and 3 as the similar. They’re committing millions of dollars of state money for a lifetime guaranteed job. Hence the rub.

From reading the thread, I get the impression that the state my have a stronger case on the contract issues but that university boards are going to have to change the timing of the tenure decision for laterals for all the institutional reasons you mentioned. If the timing is changed, the academic knows that they’re hired and the state keeps final authority about the hiring decision. Otherwise the board doesn’t follow the statute or academics don’t move.

166

Layman 08.28.14 at 9:29 pm

“But the state told the board to have the final say on tenure. And the state is paying after all. The state might feel it’s not fair to let the school’s employees grant a job a life with their oversight. That’s not unreasonable to me. (And the idea that all laterals avoid the mandated test for internals seems very weird both legally and logically.) It just might be that the timing of board decisions in the future might have to change. “

Good grief, will you please stop this nonsense? A Board can carry out its responsibilities in many ways, including the most obvious one of hiring executives to carry them out. If a Board were not comfortable with the executives making hiring decisions of this kind, where offers were made with implicit Board rubber-stamp approval, the Board would have long since changed the process to require approval before offers were made. That the Board has not changed the process before now constitutes Board approval of that process, establishing a de facto Board policy permitting executives to act. It appears that this is how it is done, how it has always been done, and no one arguing the contrary has yet identified a single case where an offer was made and accepted and either the executive later decided not to submit for approval, or the Board withheld approval. This one case is therefore a special case of some kind, for some reason, and that reason appears to be that some university donors don’t like Salaita’s political views.

Now, what else do you need to know?

167

Trader Joe 08.28.14 at 9:29 pm

Perhaps off topic, but if Professor Salaita is as skilled and gifted a professor as the reports seem to suggest – why wouldn’t some other university, perhaps anxious to demonstrate their free speech chops – extend him an invitation to join their faculty at substantially similar terms?

I appreciate class schedules are set and all that jazz, but surely there are universities that could find a way to carry him for a term or so and then work him into the line-up. Seems like said university would win twice – get a talented employee, and demonstrate that they believe in academic freedom.

Maybe there have been offers and he hasn’t reported them?

168

AcademicLurker 08.28.14 at 9:32 pm

But I don’t think 1 and 3 are similar from the state’s perspective. They see 2 and 3 as the similar. They’re committing millions of dollars of state money for a lifetime guaranteed job. Hence the rub.

But that’s true every time someone is granted tenure and every time some one is hired with tenure. There are well established procedures and processes for doing both of these and they were deemed sufficient until a (still unnamed) wealthy donor decided to throw his/her weight around.

I think focusing on “the state” is a bit of a red herring here. The state didn’t nix Salaita’s appointment. The chancellor did, apparently at the behest of a private (wealthy) individual. So what we are looking at is a perversion of the whole process.

169

Bloix 08.28.14 at 9:33 pm

#158 – “they have too much invested to understand”
says the man who personally benefits from the broadest possible understanding of the protections of tenure.

There are some people who are incapable of opening their mouths without accusing others of bad faith. The self-righteousness flows like curses from a sailor.

170

Corey Robin 08.28.14 at 9:35 pm

Trader Joe: I have two words for you: Norm Finkelstein. No one disputes the guy is a phenomenal teacher. And he has a very solid record of scholarship. Since he was denied tenure at DePaul, not a single university has touched him. Not even given him an adjunct position. Not even invited him for a talk. They’re petrified that if they did, the pro-Israel forces would come down on them like a ton of bricks. I would imagine the same thing is going on with Salaita. Faculty, I’m sure, would love to hire them: but you’d have to move mountains to get an administrator not to stand in their way. Not at the last minute, a la UIUC, but from the get-go. He’s just too visible. Also, no university president would want to be seen as crossing another university president, which is exactly how this would be perceived.

171

T 08.28.14 at 9:49 pm

@159 and @160
So someone moving from an English Dept. to an American Indian Studies Dept. at a higher-ranked school doesn’t have to supply a dossier for review during the selection process before tenured appointment? (I understand that the review must occur before the selection and not after the appointment if that’s causing confusion.)

Just searching a coupe of schools for tenure (USC came up) shows the dossier for senior laterals to look much like all required dossiers.

Thanks for the info.

172

Corey Robin 08.28.14 at 9:59 pm

Bloix at 168: It is true that having personally benefited from the tenure system, I believe that those benefits ought to be extended to others similarly situated (and in fact, as anyone who’s read my work knows, I believe those benefits ought to be more universally extended to other categories of workers). I also believe that when it is unfairly not so extended, I am obligated to speak up. On some (actually most) accounts of morality (see Golden Rule), that is considered to be the right thing to do.

173

Andrew F. 08.28.14 at 10:01 pm

A few things:

(1) the relevant public statements by Salaita were made after she received the dean’s recommendation; there was no judgment on the question of those facts for her to defer to;

(2) Salaita was an external candidate, meaning that the University had far less information about his teaching and general style of interaction than they would have about an internal candidate;

(3) the judgment by the Chancellor was not one on which the recommending department would have any advantage in expertise – she was not judging his scholarship;

(4) can someone please post evidence of the super-deferential norm to departmental recommendations? Is there any governing document, from any university or college, with a similar approval process to the University of Illinois, in which the Chancellor and the Board are directed to only disagree with a departmental recommendation for tenure if evidence of an unarguably egregious fact, such as commission of a felony, marking the candidate unfit for appointment comes to light?

I have not seen any. I have however seen documents from other universities, such as Cornell University, which seem to explicitly take an opposing viewpoint, and moreover make provision for a candidate’s interim appointment, preserving the Board’s full right to decide on the hire, should the candidate need to begin at the University before the Board has been able to consider the question.

While I agree that in general the practice is to be deferential to the recommendation of the dean, the circumstances here are such that material facts came to light after the dean’s recommendation, and I don’t know of any institution that has recognized such deference to only be limited by commissions of felonies or plagiarism.

How offensive and disrespectful does one have to be before a University can decide not to hire you for life? There’s likely to be a wide scope of opinion here, and any standard will be vague.

As to predictions that this will be massively disruptive to the academic hiring process, okay: the predictions are noted. When is the anticipated massive disruption likely to begin?

174

T 08.28.14 at 10:02 pm

@167
Not a red herring at all. I’m talking about the rights of the states vs. the rights of the academic in general. The argument that the faculty has it covered so the state should butt out is pretty unconvincing.

175

Corey Robin 08.28.14 at 10:09 pm

172: “can someone please post evidence of the super-deferential norm to departmental recommendations?”

Assuming we’re talking about cases like Salaita’s — that is, a lateral hire — the obligation is on you to find a single case where a Board of Trustees or a Chancellor/President has, upon the proffering of an offer letter from a duly authorized agent of the university, revoked that offer letter, for reasons that go beyond the stipulated cases above. Particularly after the recipient of the letter has given up his position, moved, etc. Can you?

176

Andrew F. 08.28.14 at 10:33 pm

Corey, you’re claiming the existence of a norm – not me. If rarity of the action is the standard of evidence that there is a norm against the action, then this devolves rapidly. Here:

Can you name a case where someone in the position of the Chancellor recommended a candidate to the Board for tenure, despite her judgment that it was not in the best interests of the University, which Board then approved tenure despite their judgment that it was not in the best interests of the University, because of lack of evidence of the commission of a felony or plagiarism and the norm to adhere to the recommendations of the dean if such evidence is lacking? If not, should I conclude that it would be extraordinary if Salaita were to have been approved?

Salaita’s circumstances are such that I doubt there is a large number of relevantly similar cases we can examine. It would also be extremely difficult to ascertain whether, in relevantly similar cases where the individual in Salaita’s position was approved, he was approved because of the existence of a super-deferential norm.

I’m simply asking for some tangible evidence of this super-deferential norm. Is it recognized explicitly by any college or university? Are there other forms of evidence, beyond scattered testimonials from faculty?

177

Scott Lemieux 08.28.14 at 10:41 pm

Let me get this straight — you’re asking for proof of an unwritten norm in written documents?

178

J Thomas 08.28.14 at 10:42 pm

Two separate questions.

Did the university administration have the legal right to fire or dehire Salaita based on the evidence they had about him. This will likely be decided in court. It’s a legal tangle, some people may think it’s completely obvious but whatever anybody thinks now, it will be decided in court. As Leo Szilard put it in his short story “My trial as a war criminal”,

Of course, the outcome of a bona fide fair trial is always something of a toss up.

The second question is whether the administration was right to do it. To me this second question is completely obvious. If you are a zionist or strongly influenced by zionists, it will seem obviously right. If you are a firm believer in employment at will then it doesn’t matter whether they were right, they HAD the right and that’s all that matters. Anybody else will think it’s wrong.

Am I wrong? Are there people whose opinions don’t fit into these categories?

179

Corey Robin 08.28.14 at 10:42 pm

In other words, Andrew F, you cannot find such an instance.

180

Bloix 08.28.14 at 10:56 pm

#171 – I’m not saying that what you say is suspect because you will benefit from the position you advocate. I have no reason to think that you’re not sincere. I’m saying that your knee-jerk reaction to people who disagree with you is that they are liars and knaves.

181

Joshua W. Burton 08.28.14 at 10:59 pm

There’s a serious argument against Salaita and his paper trail that no one has even made in the several threads here, so far as I can see — probably because it challenges a polite convention about academic domains of authority which is (1) demonstrably useful, (2) nearly always empirically right, (3) socially vulnerable as a meritocratic claim to democratic assent, and (4) very close to the paycheck for a lot of us. Since I know so little about the Salaita case (practically everything I have read on both sides I dismiss on internal evidence as strongly biased), I will present this indirectly as I have personally heard it applied to a notorious racist professor in my wife’s department, by several of his colleagues.

The argument is that, merely on the datum that they judged Professor X’s teaching and research exemplary, the speaker’s view of the competence in discipline of Department Y goes down. The 0.1% of us who can do so start checking footnotes, rederiving equations, rereading recommendation letters out of Y for nuance . . . all without admitting it, of course, but grants are very competitive and “we’re all Bayesians in foxholes.” The general public, unequipped to spot-check the output and already casually skeptical about the excellence of peer-evaluated research, do not even have a Bayesian chance to correct the presumption. Instead, they smear out the anecdote into a diffuse disposition to vote down bond issues and leave their fortunes to other institutions.

Any analysis that begins, as hosts and commenters have courteously done here, by presuming that departments know their business and that attacks on their professional competence are both rude and irrelevant, rests on a base of privilege and trust whose defense is very much within the chancellor’s domain of concern, and on whose easy inviolability she can therefore not lightly presume.

182

T 08.28.14 at 11:11 pm

@176 @178
Do I have this right?

“The state/board, despite the statutory language, cannot deny tenure to laterals approved by the faculty when a conditional offer letter has been sent unless in the case of a felony or other similar act. The justification for this position is twofold: 1) because the state/board hasn’t done it before and 2) potential and actual burdens placed on the lateral.” Please edit if I’ve misstated your view.

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J Thomas 08.28.14 at 11:15 pm

#175

I’m simply asking for some tangible evidence of this super-deferential norm.

I’ll say it again. Tenured faculty have strong defenses against being fired. They will hardly ever give up a tenured job to get an untenured job.

If they thought it was at all plausible that they would be fired during a lateral transfer, they would not accept a lateral transfer. But they do accept lateral transfers a whole lot.

This is evidence that it hardly ever happens.

So, imagine you’re transferring from one tenured job to another. You must send them a letter saying that you are on trial for the murder of your wife, but you didn’t do it, and you would like to postpone your teaching until you are free. The school might reply that they are holding the position for you and hope to see you after you are declared innocent. Or they might reply that they no longer want you.

Imagine you are transferring. They know you are a member of the GOP and you have generally conservative views. But a little while before you are to start teaching they find that you posted at LGF some silliness including “Democrats are all liberal poopy-heads and the jobs they most deserve are to be moving targets at shooting ranges.”. Would it be right for them to dump you over that?

Well, it hardly ever happens. And so the question is whether the tweets were a serious enough crime to justify changing their minds. And opinions vary. Zionists, who tend to think that enemies of Israel have no right to live much less be employed, consider it completely justified. Others, generally not.

On the one hand, the courts might say one way or another.
On the other hand, if it turns into enough of an issue to get a bunch of faculty organized, then they will have a say. Universities can, though choose to stop giving tenure and gradually break the faculties. When they can at any time convert any professor to part-time pay, and get the teachers competing desperately enough that they never work together, then the unions can be broken and the politicized administrations then get full control.

184

Limericky Dicky 08.28.14 at 11:18 pm

Denial’s implausible here,
Which works (within bounds) to spread fear.
But with this dismissal,
They’ve dropped the dogwhistle
And critical mass may be near.

185

AcademicLurker 08.28.14 at 11:20 pm

T@173: I’m not sure what you’re getting at here. The standard procedures in place for promotion and hiring are procedures that the state itself deemed satisfactory until a private donor applied pressure to the chancellor. Why did these procedures suddenly become inadequate? Are you arguing for a system in which wealthy donors have the prerogative to over rule the faculty? The Koch brothers would be thrilled, since they could ensure that no scientists who felt that coal power has any drawbacks would ever get tenure or be hired.

186

J Thomas 08.28.14 at 11:32 pm

#180 Joshua Norton

You have raised a serious concern. I will restate it in case somebody didn’t get the implications.

Let’s suppose there is a political organization that is strongly represented in academics, and also in business. And let’s suppose that Department Y hires professor X who disagrees with those politics, and Department Y claims that professor X is technically competent at his job, apart from his politics.

Then the academics in this cabal will think that Department Y is itself incompetent for harboring X. Any time they see any academic results from Y they will look at it very carefully searching for mistakes they can publicize. Some of them will have the chance to review grant proposals coming from Y and will reject them. They will try to reject tenure-track candidates that come from Y. They will quietly arrange a general boycott of Y.

Meanwhile, the businessmen among the cabal will avoid doing business with Department Y and the university it rode in on. They will tell people that this is a baaaad university that nobody should support, and try to pressure the government to reduce funding, and will attempt to vote down bond issues, and will donate money to its competitors, and so on. They will try to arrange a general divestiture of Y.

And a chancellor who lives in the real world where such things are vitally important to the university’s survival, must be careful that her school does not do things which this cabal does not want done.

187

Collin Street 08.28.14 at 11:32 pm

Took me a few minutes to work out the problem, but it’s here:
> despite the statutory language

Question-begging. Your “despite” is imputing a specific meaning to the statutory language that you’re requiring Corey to agree with, when the exact/intended/actual import of the statute is in large part in dispute.

Literally the same error as “have you stopped beating your wife yet”. Easier to make in good faith, though.

As a general rule, you shouldn’t use words like “despite” when you’re writing out those “am I stating your position correctly” statement/questions because… well, see above. Instead I suggest writing out in full what [you think corey thinks] the law means, that way the assumptions/errors are on the surface where they’re directly tractable.

188

Bloix 08.28.14 at 11:44 pm

#176 – “Let me get this straight — you’re asking for proof of an unwritten norm in written documents?”
He is asking you to meet your burden of proof, a concept that no doubt you are familiar with.

#178 – although Prof. Robin clearly is not.

189

J Thomas 08.28.14 at 11:59 pm

#187

He is asking you to meet your burden of proof, a concept that no doubt you are familiar with.

This is a dog-didn’t-bark-in-the-night argument.

If tenured professors thought there was any chance that they would lose tenure by making a lateral transfer, they would not do it. They would at the least do a lateral transfer only after the board of trustees signed off on it and all the terms of the contract were firm.

But many tenured professors do make lateral transfers without taking any precautions like that. They consistently assume that they will not suffer a bait-and-switch, that they will in fact get the job they were promised.

Tenured professors are saying that if this unprecedented action does stand, they will no longer do that but will insist that all the t’s are crossed and the i’s dotted before they accept a transfer. Because this is something brand new.

Whether there used to be an unwritten rule against it, I can’t say. Just nobody did it. If they had done it, there would have been various consequences. Now it’s been done once and various consequences are starting to unfold.

190

T 08.29.14 at 12:05 am

@184 @186
The statute says the board has to approve all tenure decisions. The letter said that tenure was conditional on board approval. The accompanying materials said that as point 1. The board has denied tenure to internals. It seems very clear that Scott, Corey and host of others think it’s different for laterals than internals. So I think they believe there is something going on about the interpretation of the statute that is not in the language. I gave the two reasons that are put forward by Corey and others. I’m happy to be corrected. If there is language in the statute that points to a different standard for internals and laterals or give the board different powers for internals and laterals, please send it along.

191

Bloix 08.29.14 at 12:20 am

#188- “Just nobody did it.”
New hires didn’t used to buy time on tv in order to show commercials of themselves being jackasses. It’s a brave new world.

192

Collin Street 08.29.14 at 12:31 am

> He is asking you to meet your burden of proof

Expert witness statements is a perfectly acceptable method of proof to establish common practice in some field or another.

Et cetera et cetera. You don’t strike me as temperamentally suited to the practice of law, Bloix: dogmatism gets you blindsided.

193

LFC 08.29.14 at 12:42 am

T @170
So someone moving from an English Dept. to an American Indian Studies Dept. at a higher-ranked school doesn’t have to supply a dossier for review during the selection process before tenured appointment? (I understand that the review must occur before the selection and not after the appointment if that’s causing confusion.)
Just searching a couple of schools for tenure (USC came up) shows the dossier for senior laterals to look much like all required dossiers.

Yes, presumably they have to supply a dossier for review. In some cases there may be outside input to the review, in others not, it prob. depends on the particular institution and/or opening . But as AcLurker has pointed out, someone who already has tenure elsewhere is on a different footing than an untenured person, whether the latter is being hired laterally or promoted from within.

194

LFC 08.29.14 at 12:56 am

T @181
“The state/board, despite the statutory language, cannot deny tenure to laterals approved by the faculty when a conditional offer letter has been sent unless in the case of a felony or other similar act. The justification for this position is twofold: 1) because the state/board hasn’t done it before and 2) potential and actual burdens placed on the lateral.”

I think a more accurate phrasing of the position would be something like this:

Prevailing and (heretofore) universally accepted norms of academic hiring preclude the board from exercising its statutory authority to overrule lateral hires approved by the dept/faculty and the relevant dean(s), except in cases of intervening behavior so egregious (e.g., criminal acts, obvious plagiarism) that there could be no reasonable disagreement about its decisive negative bearing on the candidate’s suitability for academic employment.

195

In the sky 08.29.14 at 1:11 am

Fwiw before teaching basic calculus at a large public university I was legally required, as an employee of a state body, to formally confirm something or other about adhering to the state constitution. Everyone in the room knew it was a stupid formality. The existence of these laws doesn’t necessarily mean anything.

196

geo 08.29.14 at 1:13 am

Bloix @190: New hires didn’t used to buy time on tv in order to show commercials of themselves being jackasses.

Bloix, if some university did to you what the University of Illinois did to Salaita, you can be sure everyone at Crooked Timber would leap to your defense, even though most of them think you’re a jackass.

197

J Thomas 08.29.14 at 1:23 am

#193 LFC

Prevailing and (heretofore) universally accepted norms of academic hiring preclude the board from exercising its statutory authority to overrule lateral hires approved by the dept/faculty and the relevant dean(s), except in cases of intervening behavior so egregious (e.g., criminal acts, obvious plagiarism) that there could be no reasonable disagreement about its decisive negative bearing on the candidate’s suitability for academic employment.

This is an example of moral relativity. For zionists, it’s clear that Salaita’s behavior is so egregious that he should not be teaching in a US university. But for pretty much anybody else, he didn’t do anything particularly wrong.

Is there reasonable disagreement about its decisive negative bearing? No, only unreasonable disagreement. There’s no basis to decide who’s morally right and who’s morally wrong about the question. You’ll get different answers depending on who you are.

There is no way to resolve the disagreement short of good will, compromise, etc. But any weakening in zionist positions compromises Israel’s existence, which is unacceptable to zionists.

We argue about side issues because it’s clear the fundamental issues are not going to get any good resolution. So maybe if we discuss this other stuff we can occupy ourselves until the particular issue blows over, and then we can put it aside until next time.

We cannot reach agreement whether Salaita’s tweets were bad enough to justify destroying his career. So instead we argue whether Chancellor Wise had the legal right to do that.

198

T 08.29.14 at 1:28 am

Thanks LFC. It’s nice to see someone state their position succinctly (obviously subject to future clarification.) I wonder if Corey or Scott agree with your framing. As I’ve already stated, I don’t think the standard is lower for laterals in the plain language of the statute (and the offer letter and accompanying materials.) You seem to agree when writing “preclude the board from exercising its statutory authority.” And I’m unconvinced that the state has less authority or is expected to apply different standards when granting lifetime employment, costing the state millions of dollars, in the case of laterals.

199

Colin Danby 08.29.14 at 1:31 am

170: You can do different things. Sometimes a department at an R1 will hire an Associate from a less research-intensive institution as an Assistant: in other words that person gives up tenure in the move and knows they’ll have to go through the process again at the new place. (It’s telling that nobody has even suggested that as a compromise here: Salaita could not possibly trust Wise to give him a fair shake in a new U of I tenure process.)

Remember that when you hire at the senior (Associate or Full) level you’re going to have a pretty capacious dossier in any case: course evals and sometimes student letters, and of course access to all the person’s publications. The hiring faculty is going to make their own assessment of scholarship and teaching during the hiring process. The relevant Dean will have access to this material before an offer goes out. (I don’t know if there is any additional provost-level vetting – it would be interesting to hear from someone who knows the specifics of the U of I admin circuitry exactly what route Salaita’s appointment took through the admin process.)

175: Andrew F has been on balance helpful – it’s clarifying to see how a legal defense of the U of I might work – but the 2nd para @175 is insane.

180: The problem in this case is obviously not the guy’s research – it’s his political speech in a non-academic setting. Surely we can take Wise at her word on that point. Not one of his assailants – even Cary Nelson, a fellow English prof who certainly had ample time to prepare the ambush – has made an attack on Salaita’s scholarship as scholarship. (And speaking of updating priors, the fact that Joshua W. Burton terms an admittedly evidence-free insinuation a “serious argument” causes me just a twinge of doubt about the professional competence of Joshua W. Burton.)

200

LFC 08.29.14 at 1:54 am

@T 197
I wonder if Corey or Scott agree with your framing

I think what I said is basically just a repeat/distillation of what Corey laid out at 157; he did it at more length and gave the reasons why the current norms exist.

201

Limericky Dicky 08.29.14 at 2:46 am

To answer Andrew F. and those with whom he’s in alliance:
The contract is the letter on which SS placed reliance.

It says the rec’mmendation (that on which the offer’s based)
is “subject to” approval by the Board [that's now disgraced].

It doesn’t say “contingent”, though that’s in another clause
which specifies conformity with U.S. visa laws.

Appended to that document, attachment number three
Excerpts from the conditions, to inform the appointee.

Now these are ‘non-exhaustive’ but they make things fairly clear.
For ease of exposition I will quote them freely here:

The University of Illinois Statutes (Article IX, Section 3.a.) provide that only the Board of Trustees has the authority to make formal appointments to the academic staff. New academic staff members will receive a formal Notification of Appointment from the Board once the hiring unit has received back from the candidate all required documents, so the appointment can be processed.

The emphasis is mine. Now, while I shan’t pre-empt a court,
I think it’s clear from what is here just what the author thought.

Appointees are directed, too, to what the statutes say.
The Article I’ll quote is IX; the Section is 3(a):

All appointments, reappointments, and promotions of the academic staff, as defined in Article IX, Section 4a, shall be made by the Board of Trustees on the recommendation of the chancellor/vice president concerned and the president.

The emphasis is mine, again. Note well that there’s no mention
(at least none that’s explicit) that the Board may wield discretion.

The chancellor and president are clearly in this chain,
but they’re not in the letter, and no veto is made plain.

So what is normal’s clear, I think (it didn’t take me long!)
The documented case, for what it’s worth, seems pretty strong.

Dear Andrew F, do please take heed, for maybe you could learn
But I suspect this won’t allay your very real concern.

202

T 08.29.14 at 3:03 am

@199

No slight intended but I’d like them to speak for themselves.

203

Limericky Dicky 08.29.14 at 3:08 am

And in those cited cases in which new staff faced ‘de-hiring’
They’ve done things which, in spite of tenure, justified their firing

204

Andrew F. 08.29.14 at 10:16 am

@J Thomas: ordinarily, someone who reigns his position at his institution to move to another, but before the Board has approved his new position, must indeed be highly confident that the Board will approve. I agree that this is consistent with the existence of a deferential norm – that the Chancellor and Board will not seek to re-evaluate the candidate as a matter of first impression. Instead the Chancellor and Board would look at issues that may have been weakly addressed previously, or would look at new red flags that emerged. If the candidate has no such red flags, i.e. hasn’t come to national attention for making statements that, in quarters not considered to be crazy or unreasonable, give the impression of someone who would detract from the quality of discussion and collegiality within the community, then they can be quite confident.

However that doesn’t establish a super-deferential norm – the idea that, barring commission of a felony after the dean made her recommendation, the Chancellor and Board ought approve. And it’s the super-deferential norm I find highly questionable. I agree with the existence of a deferential norm.

Is there some population of cases out there in which a candidate is set to begin next semester, has received a dean’s recommendation but not the necessary higher approval, and then issues a series of inflammatory public statements that attract national attention, and that many interpret as highly offensive, demeaning, and indicative of an individual unlikely to augment discourse in the University? The outcome of those cases may tell us something about whether such a super-deferential norm exists, though I suspect their number will be too small.

@Corey, again, I’m not the one claiming the existence of a super-deferential norm. I’m simply asking for evidence that it exists beyond scattered testimonials. Are there cases relevantly similar to Salaita in which the candidate was granted tenure, from which we should infer the existence of a super-deferential norm? I can’t think of any.

@Scott, are you saying that it’s an entirely unwritten norm?

I ask for instances in which this norm has been set down in a governing document, or statement of principles, because many important norms and values are recognized in that fashion. For example, principles of academic freedom, norms and rules governing the qualities that may be considered in academic hiring and the qualities that may not be considered in academic hiring, and so on, are all in fact set forth in many places. One finds them in the law, in institutional policies and by-laws, in statements of principles by various professional organizations.

Those are norms the existence of which is not contested, though certainly their borders are sometimes contested, as is the case with all norms.

So, are there any such sources that describe this super-deferential norm? Is the super-deferential norm sufficiently established to have achieved that level of recognition?

Or, rather, is the super-deferential norm more an expression of how some faculty would like the administration to conduct academic hiring?

@Limericky: I enjoy your writing, but your reading is all wrong. “Subject to approval” means that approval is a condition – this is a very common phrase, and “subject” used in this context means “dependent or conditional upon,” as any one of numerous dictionaries will confirm. Your reading of what it means that the Board shall make all appointments is similarly just wrong. It means that only the Board has the power to make appointments, not that the Board shall make whatever appointments are recommended to it.

Regarding Salaita’s prospects:

I don’t share some of the dire predictions shared in above comments. If Salaita is, in fact, an excellent teacher, an understanding individual who, though passionate about his views, respects and connects with others despite disagreements, and a productive scholar, then Virginia Tech should be glad to reinstate him (or some other University will take him).

I don’t think this would, or should, be viewed as one university crossing another – quite frankly university presidents and boards would probably argue more strongly than anyone that employment decisions are often subjective and discretionary. This is something they, to all appearances and according to everything I know of them, truly believe, and it’s therefore unlikely that the University of Illinois would take affront to the hiring of Salaita elsewhere, much less to his reinstatement at Virginia Tech.

Further, I think it fairly easy for Salaita to repair any damage to his reputation by speaking on the issue – though I understand that, at the moment, he will need to be guided by his legal counsel, and he should heed that advice.

But I believe that his counsel should allow, and indeed urge, Salaita to carefully rehabilitate his reputation by posting past material that illustrates the qualities I mentioned above, and by explaining some of the more problematic tweets.

I cannot imagine how deeply disturbing and unsettling this must have been, and must be, for Salaita and his family, but there is no humiliation in clarifying one’s meaning, nor in correcting false representations of yourself with the truth.

When he does this, he’ll need to control any impulse he has to lash out at those he believes to have sabotaged his appointment. Like many academics, he relishes the argument, but this is a more subtle battle. Lashing out, even if justified, only undermines the very impressions he’ll need to create, and the very bridges he’ll need to build to others. Without undermining or diminishing his passionate views on the plight of Palestinians, he must be gracious, humane, reasonable, accepting, and friendly; hurt by the Chancellor’s decision, yet also confident. He should tell stories of students, and colleagues, with whom he has had disagreements and maintained good relationships.

Perhaps Salaita hasn’t been quite so tolerant as I suggest he portray himself, of course; if so, then he should take this as an opportunity to grow and become so.

Contrary to the perceptions of those deeply enmeshed in the problem of Israel and Palestine, there are many of us for whom it is not a primary or controlling issue, who can view statements on it with some detachment, and who don’t judge others based on their own views on the problem. I have little problem with the idea of Salaita correcting the record if it is misleading, or growing as an individual and a professional.

I continue to think that the Chancellor, given the information she had at the time, made a reasonable decision – though I also believe aspects of it were handled poorly (exacerbated, perhaps, by early defensive maneuvering by the University’s attorneys). But Salaita still has an opportunity to demonstrate that her actions were incorrect on the basis of information she did not have, or did not have the time to consider.

I’d just add that I doubt the Chancellor was unmoved by some of the letters she’s received in support of Salaita. Certainly I was moved. And I wonder whether she knew that Salaita had already resigned, and rented his house, when the decision was made. Though her duty to the University would oblige her to minimize that factor in her decision, I am sure that it troubled her, regardless of when she learned of it. Depending on the strength of Salaita’s case, she might even be moved to view a resubmission of his name favorably.

/bloviating – apologies for the long post – typed it in bits between other things, and did not realize the length until I scrolled up.

205

novakant 08.29.14 at 11:08 am

Since I believe in the norms of academic freedom, however, I obviously do not think that offensive tweets are firable offense.

So just to get this straight: academics can say whatever they want publicly and should never be fired for it, because they are protected by academic freedom.

They can say e.g. :

” Women / brown people / gays / jews / muslims/ catholics / the working class whathaveyou are inferior human beings who lack intelligence and morality.”

and the institution employing them cannot fire them for it?

206

Collin Street 08.29.14 at 11:09 am

Again, hosts-of-this-web-discussion-venue.

When he does this, he’ll need to control any impulse he has to lash out at those he believes to have sabotaged his appointment.

… connotation and denotation: implication and “meaning”, but implication is also part of meaning. That which is implied is said. Said differently, but still said, still communicated.

And, well, what Andrew F wrote — said — implied, but it makes no difference — is pretty shitty here.

[the chief difference between online and face-to-face experience is that the online experience is much less under our control than the face-to-face one. Paradoxically, perhaps. Our online experience is shaped more by the behaviours the the people who run the spaces we frequent tolerate on their spaces, rather than the behaviours we tolerate in our presence: we can “leave”, but only on a much more macro scale than face-to-face. As the guests surrender control to their hosts, the hosts assume control from their guests, which means to maintain the same sort of environment the work that was done by the attendees [walking away, gossiping behind people's backs warning others off, in extremis tipping glasses on people's heads or punching them in the guts] can’t be so any more and it’s up to the hosts to pick up the slack. Society works on selective exclusion and online the only tool we have to work that is the ban.]

207

Trader Joe 08.29.14 at 11:13 am

Corey @169
Thank you for the response and while it would seem kinda silly for administrators to behave as you describe, presuming non-silly behavior from university administrations would probably be a mistake. These are the sort of “in-rules” that so beduddle people not familliar with them. Its not that there is never black-balling outside of academia, but usually at some point, for some deal, some company will bid on talent where its found.

Hopefully some university will find the gumption to do the right thing – At this point I’d judge it highly unlikely, despite the concerted efforts of academia to help them see the right of it, that UI is going to do an about face (then again, since that would seem a silly thing for them to do, the odds should be rising).

208

djr 08.29.14 at 11:17 am

And I wonder whether she knew that Salaita had already resigned, and rented his house, when the decision was made.

Of course she knew. It has been pointed out to you numerous times on this thread that Boards have made a habit of sitting on lateral transfers for the best part of a year, while at the same time tacitly accepting that the rest of the university will treat it as a done deal. Surely nobody can rise to being chancellor of a major university without at some point having been involved in a lateral hiring decision, and noted the conflicting timescales involved?

Basically what you’re calling the “super-deferential norm” seems to have emerged due to many universities’ Boards’ laxadaisical performance of their duty to review lateral transfers in a timescale that fits with universities’ need for the new hires to be able to resign their old jobs and move in time for their proposed start dates. They can change the norm, by announcing that they will be taking a substantive role in lateral hiring deicisions from now on, but to do it retrospectively is unfair as it tramples all over established practises.

209

AcademicLurker 08.29.14 at 11:33 am

It seems like many of the questions regarding established norms versus the fine print of the offer & etc. amount to asking “What will happen if this goes to court?” The answer, I think, is that UIUC’s actions in this case are so unprecedented that we simply don’t know. The lawyers who have weighed in so far certainly do not seem to think that it’s an open-and-shut case.

210

Barry 08.29.14 at 12:08 pm

Andrew F: “I don’t share some of the dire predictions shared in above comments. If Salaita is, in fact, an excellent teacher, an understanding individual who, though passionate about his views, respects and connects with others despite disagreements, and a productive scholar, then Virginia Tech should be glad to reinstate him (or some other University will take him).”

Andrew, most of the people here are not idiots. Whom are you trying to fool? The administrators at Virginia will face the same pressures.

211

T 08.29.14 at 1:08 pm

@208
Completely agree. Hoffman did a fine job of citing to the case law for a blog post but he notes that his analysis was incomplete and he concluded that the contract claim would be difficult but not impossible to reach. There may well be docs, institutional precedents, or legal presidents we are all unaware of. Further, none of this touches on the 1st A claim which Dorf and Hoffman both think is stronger than the estoppel claim. My comments are based on logic: why would the state have less power over employment decisions for laterals than internals given they are conferring the same benefits in both cases? And why would the state cede lifetime hiring decisions to its employees? But logic and law are two different things. Once again, it would be nice to have a practicing Illinois labor lawyer w/tenure experience weigh in. It seems that many posters on the thread are experts in something but not Illinois labor law. In rereading certain of my posts, I should have stuck more to the logic and avoided the law.

Andrew F — Take a look at statements made by the VT administration after Salaita’s “support the troops” piece. That region of Virginia is not a liberal bastion and the whole state has strong ties to the military. I’m much less sanguine about his return than you are. It would be useful if Scott or Corey had examples where an academic was able to find a new position.

212

J Thomas 08.29.14 at 1:30 pm

#203 Andrew F

Is there some population of cases out there in which a candidate is set to begin next semester, has received a dean’s recommendation but not the necessary higher approval, and then issues a series of inflammatory public statements that attract national attention, and that many interpret as highly offensive, demeaning, and indicative of an individual unlikely to augment discourse in the University?

I’m sure there is, but this is the first time it’s resulted in firing.

Are there cases relevantly similar to Salaita in which the candidate was granted tenure, from which we should infer the existence of a super-deferential norm? I can’t think of any.

I don’t know of any where the issue was being anti-Israel. I think usually in those cases it doesn’t get as far as a tenure offer in the first place.

This is unusual, usually tenured professors who are anti-Israel get that way after they get tenure, and not before.

But Salaita, a Palestinian, has been anti-Israel his wh0le career. And he has gotten to this point before his career was destroyed. This is evidence that the Zionist lobby is weakening.

Are there comparable cases where the victim was hired? How do we decide whether they were comparable? If it was, say, a Republican who got national attention after he announced that blacks are mentally inferior? No, he already had tenure and a Nobel prize.

Was it a Republican who bombed Cambodia, and got a Nobel prize, and then was offered a tenured transfer to Columbia which was later retracted due to public opposition? Kissinger isn’t really comparable.

I think in every case it can be argued that it is not in fact comparable. The offense was either more or less.

What makes this one special is that there is widespread disagreement whether Salaita actually did anything particularly bad. To some he’s the devil, to 0thers he’s pretty much n0rmal. And that’s mostly because some of us are zionists and some are not.

213

Limericky Dicky 08.29.14 at 1:54 pm

I see Andrew F. is selectively deaf and addresses the parts he thinks poorest.
Contractual terms, though, have context, one learns, as one studies the skills of the jurist.

Doing him a favour,
I will give a flavour.
“Subject to approval”;
random hit from Google:

http://www.claytonutz.com/publications/edition/16_august_2012/20120816/subject_to_board_approval-must_the_board_approve_the_contract.page

“Failure to take reasonable steps to seek Board approval may constitute a breach of contract…

“the Board must exercise that right by ensuring that it acts consistently with the general rule that each party to a contract has an obligation to ensure the other party may have the benefit of the contract…

“the other party might have an expectation that Board approval will be given. This will depend largely on the representations and negotiations that have occurred at or around the time the contract was executed. It might be, for example, that representations were made before the contract was executed that the Board approval process is simply a rubber stamp. The other party might be able to sue on that basis….

“Representatives of the company should be careful about what representations are made about Board approval, to avoid giving rise to an expectation that it will be given as a matter of course. They should also be sure to take reasonable steps to obtain that approval.”

And so, he had better read what’s in the letter; the statutes are scarcely germane,
for there’s no rebuttal of hints – most unsubtle – that only formalities remain.

214

Limericky Dicky 08.29.14 at 2:03 pm

(A. Lurker, re: norms versus contractual forms. It seems that they both work in tandem.
Felicitous fact is, the terms prove the practice, and v.v. – Q.E.Demonstrandum.)

215

AcademicLurker 08.29.14 at 2:03 pm

Limericky Dicky@211: Once this whole affair is resolved, I hope you will find the time to recount in the form of an epic poem.

216

AcademicLurker 08.29.14 at 2:04 pm

213: that should be “recount it in the form of an epic poem”.

217

Limericky Dicky 08.29.14 at 2:32 pm

I must admit I have that yearning, but as yet I’m only learning (and my self-appointed coach is not, himself, beyond reproach).

218

T 08.29.14 at 2:40 pm

Agreed.

219

T 08.29.14 at 2:59 pm

@208
@208
Agreed. My comments were based on the logic. It seemed problematic that the state has less authority over laterals than internals when conferring the same benefit. And it seemed problematic that the state would cede a lifetime employment decision to the employees. But logic ain’t the law. As I mentioned in a post that was gobbled up in moderation somehow, we need a practicing Illinois labor lawyer with tenure experience to weigh in. There are docs we haven’t seen, procedures we may be unaware of, and precedents that have not been cited. Looking back at some of my posts, I should have stuck more to the logic. In any case, both Hoffman and Dorf think the 1stA claim is probably the better of the arguments. And none of us have seen the paper trial.

Andrew — Given the reaction by some in the VT administration to Salaita’s “Support the Troops” article, a rehire might be a struggle. Virginia has close ties to the military and VT is in the red part of the state. That article did not go over well.

220

T 08.29.14 at 3:16 pm

@211
Nice to know how they do it in Brisbane, Australia. Only 8882 miles and 18.5 hrs. from Urbana, Illinois. But maybe we should be looking for a labor lawyer in Illinois?

221

Lynne 08.29.14 at 3:30 pm

Two departments at UI have declared no confidence in the university’s leaders. Last week it was the department Salaita was set to join, this week it’s the philosophy department.

http://chronicle.com/blogs/ticker/illinoiss-philosophy-dept-declares-no-confidence-in-university-leaders/84937

222

Andrew F. 08.29.14 at 4:20 pm

Limericky, first you claim that subject to approval doesn’t mean contingent upon approval (which of course it does), and you follow by quoting a randomly selected law firm on general pitfalls to be avoided when including a subject to approval reservation doesn’t make your case. There’s nothing in the letter, in the terms accompanying, or in the Illinois statutes cited therein, that imply Board approval is a rubber stamp. From a legal perspective, there’s nothing uncertain about this aspect of the matter.

Or, put into Google Translate and selecting English to Rhymed:

Your waves of couplets, however pleasing
Will not alter the letter’s plain meaning.
The letter says it’s the Board’s decision,
So echoes the law with clear provision,
And any court will treat with derision
Bald attempts at linguistic revision.

There is uncertainty about two things: whether there is evidence that viewpoint discrimination occurred (some damning email in which a Board member says “I won’t approve the hire of someone with his views on Israel” would be perfect), and whether the University undertook some sort of extraordinary action that would, notwithstanding the clear written terms, overcome them and support a claim of promissory estoppel (unlikely, though possible) or even breach of contract (even more unlikely, though possible).

Collin Street, you quoted a portion where I essentially gave PR advice. There’s nothing “shitty” implied about Salaita in it. Anyone would be angry in his position.

AcademicLurker, there’s enough here that we don’t know to be uncertain about ultimate outcomes.

djr @207: Basically what you’re calling the “super-deferential norm” seems to have emerged due to many universities’ Boards’ laxadaisical performance of their duty to review lateral transfers in a timescale that fits with universities’ need for the new hires to be able to resign their old jobs and move in time for their proposed start dates.

This implies something very different than the existence of a super-deferential norm, though, at least in the form put forth by Corey and others.

Oddly this reminds me of an aspect of international law. One of the most difficult parts of an argument based on customary international law is that one must not only establish a practice among states, but one must also establish that the practice is reflective of the existence of a norm and not simply reflective of other reasons (such as prudence).

So my honest request for evidence of the super-deferential norm isn’t intended to be a silly demand for proof of the obvious, nor is it really satisfied by the sense that Salaita’s case is unusual.

223

Limericky Dicky 08.29.14 at 4:45 pm

Andrew F. knows I won’t muster
The effort to deal with his bluster.
It’s endless, implacable,
and eminently smackable.
One feels one’s life losing its lustre.

224

Colin Danby 08.29.14 at 5:05 pm

Another way of understanding the deference normally shown senior laterals is that such appointments express institutional priorities – the University decides to increase its capacity in a particular area by wooing away a recognized senior scholar in that area. There are reasons Deans exist! One is to negotiate such priorities between faculty and upper admin. The Dean’s letter says, in effect, this is not just a few enthusiastic faculty, this is the institution speaking.

Hence Salaita’s well-founded expectation that board approval was a formality; hence the failure so far of anyone to meet Corey’s challenge to find other examples of board-reversed senior laterals. Normally leadership would not reverse even if it did have second thoughts, if for no other reason than that reversal would make their University look cruel and inept.

Higher ed has an internal structure sharply different from standard firms or nonprofits, and a particular culture (values and systems of meaning) shared across institutions. You can codify a lot of stuff, but a key part of this is a shared structure of moral obligation.

225

AcademicLurker 08.29.14 at 5:11 pm

From a legal perspective, there’s nothing uncertain about this aspect of the matter.

I think that if the situation were as straightforward as this reading of it suggests, the field of contract law would be a lot smaller than it is.

226

LFC 08.29.14 at 5:27 pm

J Thomas 212
And that’s mostly because some of us are zionists and some are not.

You have repeatedly asserted this, in comment after comment. But repeating it doesn’t make it so. This is not about Zionism. It’s about a lot of other things, but really not about that.

227

LFC 08.29.14 at 5:28 pm

p.s. As gator90, I believe, said way upthread, in a comment you (J Thomas) evidently completely missed.

228

Limericky Dicky 08.29.14 at 5:38 pm

Here’s Andrew F’s protestation:

There’s nothing in the letter, in the terms accompanying, or in the Illinois statutes cited therein, that imply Board approval is a rubber stamp.

And here’s that (repeated) quotation:

The University of Illinois Statutes (Article IX, Section 3.a.) provide that only the Board of Trustees has the authority to make formal appointments to the academic staff. New academic staff members will receive a formal Notification of Appointment from the Board once the hiring unit has received back from the candidate all required documents, so the appointment can be processed.

Now, another bit, that’s also full of [passive-aggressive provocation?].

you claim that subject to approval doesn’t mean contingent upon approval (which of course it does)

In the case of the latter, an external matter, the contract falls where it falls.
The former’s interior, with private criteria – from whence come all those ‘pitfalls’.

229

LFC 08.29.14 at 5:42 pm

Also, ‘Zionism’ does not = unqualified support for whatever the govt of Israel happens to do at any given time. (You might want to look up the word.) Admittedly it has taken on a variety of connotations, but I think you’re stretching them here.

230

Limericky Dicky 08.29.14 at 6:15 pm

Who would have thought it would suffice
To set my skin to crawling
To find the Andrew F device
Could pass the Inverse Turing?

231

Colin Danby 08.29.14 at 6:32 pm

Emphatically +1 LFC @229. There’s an honorable and thoughtful Zionist tradition. Folks can’t always foresee all the uses to which their ideas will be put.

If we reduce this to simple political binaries we lose what’s at stake here.

232

T 08.29.14 at 7:25 pm

@224
The reason that this matter has become so prominent as compared to say Norm Finkelstein is precisely because of the lateral issue and the assumption that the offer letter was not contingent. But moral obligation and contractual obligation aren’t the same even if you grant there is a moral obligation.

And I guess that “moral obligation” in the humanities also involves taking in 10 times the number of graduate students that could ever expect to get tenure-track jobs. And keeping them there for 7-9 years teaching your classes and grading papers. And then showing solidarity for the adjuncts.

As we discussed earlier, the norms are changing.

233

Collin Street 08.29.14 at 8:11 pm

Emphatically +1 LFC @229. There’s an honorable and thoughtful Zionist tradition. Folks can’t always foresee all the uses to which their ideas will be put.

Was, maybe. Actual zionism is constrained [among other things] by the consequences of choices made by israel and the jewish polity in palestine. Given that actual-real-israel was born out of ethnic cleansing in ’48 [and ethnic cleansing seems unambiguously to have happened, with defence of plan Dalet focussing on extent and whether it was planned or coordinated]… well, support the state of israel for as long as it’s existed has depended on a willingness to accept the fruits of that tree.

Which is pragmatic, yes. Maybe even reasonable. But not I think “honourable” by any measure.

234

MPAVictoria 08.29.14 at 8:29 pm

“You have repeatedly asserted this, in comment after comment. But repeating it doesn’t make it so. This is not about Zionism. It’s about a lot of other things, but really not about that.”

+1

235

Layman 08.29.14 at 8:54 pm

Colin Danby @ 231

“There’s an honorable and thoughtful Zionist tradition.”

I’m willing to believe this, but I for one can’t see how any Zionism (“a nationalist movement of Jews and Jewish culture that supports the creation of a Jewish homeland in the territory defined as the Land of Israel”, per Wikipedia) doesn’t lead to the present state of affairs. Creating a place for the homeland necessarily means displacing some others; insisting it be Jewish necessarily excludes others. Everything flows from there. I don’t mean to say that Zionists aren’t or can’t be well-meaning, I just can’t see how they could have arrived at some better outcome given the premise, or what it is they propose Israel should do now which makes things better while keeping faith with those goals.

For my part I think Israel is a fact on the ground which makes Zionism somewhat irrelevant. I don’t want or expect Israelis to commit national suicide. I think the only workable outcome for Palestinians is a two-state solution, which will mean the Zionists won and the Palestinians lost, of course. Beyond that, I think Israel cannot remain both a Jewish state and a democracy, which means they’ll have to choose one or the other.

What do thoughtful Zionists say Israel should have done, or should do now?

236

Lynne 08.29.14 at 8:59 pm

I don’t see how this isn’t about Zionism. What other group would have been so opposed to Salaita’s tweets during the bombing of Gaza? Seventy e-mails to the Chancellor, only one supporting Salaita. Were the other 69 concerned about his lack of civility?

237

Corey Robin 08.29.14 at 9:05 pm

Very powerful letter from the national AAUP (these are the folks charged with thinking about what academic freedom means on a daily basis) to Chancellor Wise. Will try to blog about this after APSA is over, but for now, this sentence jumped out at me:

“In the intervening months between his October 2013 acceptance of the appointment and early August 2014, when you [Chancellor Wise] notified him of its termination, Professor Salaita received information from various offices of the university, indicating that they had been informed of his appointment, including an invitation from your office to attend your August 19 reception ‘welcoming faculty and academic
professionals who joined the Illinois community in 2014,’ as the invitation stated.”

So the chancellor invites the guy to a welcome reception for faculty “who joined the Illinois community in 2014,” but he was never hired.

Also interesting: I’ve asked Andrew and others on this thread to provide a single case comparable to what Wise did. They haven’t been able to. The AAUP does, however. Except it had to reach back to 1964 to find it. And when it did, it found that four years later, the university in question had to provide redress to the professor and reformed its procedures so that nothing like this would ever happen again.

“http://aaup.org/file/AAUPLetterChancellorWise.pdf

238

Corey Robin 08.29.14 at 9:17 pm

Just out of curiosity: Did any of commenters on this thread who is not a newly hired professor at the University of Illinois — that is, hired during this past academic year — get that invitation to Wise’s reception?

239

TheF79 08.29.14 at 9:29 pm

I made a move very similar to Salaita’s (tenured at A to tenured at B), and it never occurred to me that the Board approval was anything but a formality. In fact, it was communicated to me that it was a formality (I forget the exact wording, but something like “all the outside hires with tenure go up as a single motion in August and are voted on en masse”). There was no indication that the Board was going to “review” my file in any meaningful sense. Before the Board approval I had a desk, was interacting with students, computing accounts were set-up for research and the courses I was scheduled to teach, etc etc. I submitted my resignation at my old institution well before the Board approval process, and there was no one at either my old or new institution (or colleagues at other institutions) who suggested this was weird, risky or unusual. There was never any indication that this wasn’t the norm.

To me, this is a bit like the degree granting process. Most degrees say something like “Upon the recommendation of the faculty, the degree of X is conferred upon…” with the implication that the faculty “recommend” students be granted the degree, but the head of the university (and/or other authorities like the governor) sign the diploma and ultimately confer the degree. But no student goes to his graduation thinking “I may have completed my department degree requirements, but I don’t know if the president/chancellor/whoever will confer my degree.” So this whole thing is a bit like a student fulfilling all the degree requirements and meeting the faculty’s approval, but the president decides not to confer the degree because “Steve’s a dick.” Does the head of the university have such power? Sure, because they ultimately sign off and confer the degree. But if a head of the university did something like that, you’d see the same “what the hell?” reaction that you’re seeing here.

240

Collin Street 08.29.14 at 9:40 pm

> Sure, because they ultimately sign off and confer the degree.

La Reyne s’avisera

241

js. 08.29.14 at 9:41 pm

I don’t see how this isn’t about Zionism.

Well, I’d say it’s at the very least not solely about Zionism. Some of J Thomas’ comments make it seem like this is just a fight between Zionists and non- or anti-Zionists, and perhaps even that one’s attitudes towards Zionism determine, or help determine, what one thinks about the Salaita case. This seems totally false.

On the other hand, it does seem right that probably no issue other than Israel/Palestine could have led to this state of affairs, and your thought that the pressure brought to bear on Wise was at least in large part motivated by support for Zionism (in some sense or another) seems exactly right. So in that sense, I guess it does have something to do with Zionism.

242

T 08.29.14 at 9:49 pm

It’s amazing the AAUP so smart about hiring and so stupid about academic boycotts…

243

Colin Danby 08.29.14 at 9:50 pm

233,5,6

Obviously people who understand themselves to be Zionists played a role in Salaita’s firing. It doesn’t follow that “this” is therefore “about” Zionism, whatever exactly that is.

I’m interested in one thing only on this thread: norms of free inquiry and speech and not firing people because of their politics. Response re Salaita should *not* hinge on your particular political positions or historical analyses.

The rhetoric that was successfully mobilized against Salaita was highly reductionist. Is that really the game you all want to play?

244

T 08.29.14 at 10:44 pm

@243 Academics agree — politics should not affect firing, only hiring.

245

Layman 08.29.14 at 11:00 pm

Colin Danby, I didn’t/don’t say that this is about Zionism, so I’m not sure why you’re directing that comment at me. I asked you a different question, decidedly off topic, so I guess you can ignore it if you find that helpful…

246

godoggo 08.29.14 at 11:02 pm

I think we’re missing the big picture here. Go to google, type in the following two words, and see what searches are suggested:

lectures are

OK, back to the little picture: I guess I’m on Salaita’s side, passively.

247

Limericky Dicky 08.29.14 at 11:14 pm

TheF79 @ 239:

it was communicated to me that it was a formality (I forget the exact wording…)

And S should have been fine; he has this line:

New academic staff members will receive a formal Notification of Appointment from the Board once the hiring unit has received back from the candidate all required documents, so the appointment can be processed.

(AF doesn’t agree, but where is he? Perhaps when he is free, he’ll answer me.)

248

Ze Kraggash 08.29.14 at 11:56 pm

“This is not about Zionism”

Sure it is. Imagine the same sort of tweets written by, say, some Ukrainian professor about Russia/Putin and make a guess: would anyone give a damn?

249

novakant 08.30.14 at 12:17 am

FWIW I’m certainly not a Zionist and my heart was with the Palestinian s for the most part. But I wouldn’t want to take a class taught by someone like Salaita, as I would be unable to respect him as a teacher – maybe I’m old fashioned, but I associate a certain gravitas with academic teachers. I also think Salaita’s tweets habe been counterproductive to furthering the Palestinian cause, since the case draws attention away from it and provides an easy target for those trying to denounce the left.

250

LFC 08.30.14 at 12:17 am

@Layman
What do thoughtful Zionists say Israel should have done, or should do now?

This is, as you suggested, OT, but there is nothing in a general ‘Zionism’ (which is not monolithic, obvs.) that required Israel to hold onto the WB indefinitely after ’67, or to encourage settlement there. (Just to mention one pt.) Zionism does not equal Likud-ism. The former is a movement with a long history and various tendencies w/in it (a pt i’ve mentioned here before to rather little apparent impact).

251

LFC 08.30.14 at 12:24 am

@Ze Kraggash

Look, obvs. the fact that his tweets dealt w the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, an inflammatory subject, mattered in terms of the emotions etc attending this whole thing. No one is denying that.

What I was saying, however, is that J Thomas’s repeated, incessant references in this thread to “zionists” and “nonzionists,” as if that was the relevant line of demarcation in terms of how one views this matter, are stupid. These references distract attention from the real issues at stake, as Colin Danby has said above. That’s the point, Ze K., though I really don’t expect you, on past performance in these threads, to acknowledge it.

252

Lynne 08.30.14 at 12:35 am

js: “Well, I’d say it’s at the very least not solely about Zionism.”

No, of course not.

253

Ronan(rf) 08.30.14 at 12:52 am

“But I wouldn’t want to take a class taught by someone like Salaita, as I would be unable to respect him as a teacher – maybe I’m old fashioned, but I associate a certain gravitas with academic teachers.”

Oh FFS. Look, I’m not unsympathetic to that(apart from the gravitas part) and his public persona(and the topics of some of his research interests) would probably put me off reading his books, but that has nothing to do with whether the university was in the right here.

254

Ronan(rf) 08.30.14 at 1:02 am

Or to clarify, I’m not sympathetic to the ‘I wouldnt want him as a teacher part’..I mean, who cares if one person has a particular picture of what ‘an academic’ should look/behave like, and when anyone disturbs that image the professional in question should be ignored/shunned/discarded.
That’s an incredibly childish perspective. The difference between Salaita and your archetypal gravitas excuding academic might just be that one has a twitter account and the other spends his time shouting at walls or his family.
Your aesthetic preferences alone do not dictate this mans career trajectory.

255

Ze Kraggash 08.30.14 at 1:38 am

Well, it’s not about zionism in the same sense as mccarthyism was not about communism, or, say, the southern strategy wasn’t about racism. There are many ways to tell a story, different levels of abstraction. J Thomas’ way of telling this story doesn’t seem particularly controvercial. You can choose a different interpretation, fine, but it doesn’t negate his, I don’t think.

256

godoggo 08.30.14 at 2:38 am

It occurred to me the other day when I was looking at the Wikipedia talk page for the Nizkor Project that some people use the word “Zionist” much the way some other people use the word “antisemite.” “AIPAC,” too.

257

godoggo 08.30.14 at 2:40 am

… albeit less effectively, I guess.

258

Donald Johnson 08.30.14 at 4:09 am

“that some people use the word “Zionist” much the way some other people use the word “antisemite.” “AIPAC,” too.”

I don’t get the AIPAC reference. AIPAC is a very effective lobbying group, so effective it has basically made it impossible for the US government to exert any pressure on Israel towards achieving a 2SS that so many Israel supporters claim they want. See the latest New Yorker for details.

People who use the term “Zionist” in a derogatory way are thinking of it as an ideology that justifies the violent expulsion of 700,000 Palestinians from their homes in order to build a majority Jewish state. Did all Zionists justify or excuse the Nakba? No. But that’s the version of Zionism that led to the state of Israel.

259

js. 08.30.14 at 5:25 am

Re Lynne @252:

Honestly, it was a mistake on my part to pick a sentence of yours to reply to because I’m actually completely in agreement with what you’ve said on this thread, and other related ones. I just wanted to signal agreement, mostly—because I do think it has to do with Zionism in somewhat complicated ways—with LFC’s original response to J Thomas (226/229). But anyway, did not mean to signal disagreement to with you at all!

260

Lynne 08.30.14 at 11:52 am

js

Thanks. I was probably so terse with you because I’d read Colin Danby’s. Sorry—I did get that you were agreeing.

And to people quibbling about the meaning of Zionism, eg “People who use the term “Zionist” in a derogatory way are thinking of it as an ideology that justifies the violent expulsion of 700,000 Palestinians from their homes in order to build a majority Jewish state.”—that is a prevalent and legitimate understanding of the word. If you want to rehabilitate it, go for it, but don’t pretend there aren’t plenty of people who can’t bear to criticize Israel, who really won’t stand for it, and who equate any criticism of Israel with anti-semitism.

Which is NOT to say the Salaita affair is only about Zionism. Good grief, I’d have thought if there was a blog where a complex subject could be discussed this would have been it.

261

Main Street Muse 08.30.14 at 12:39 pm

1) U of I violated due process. I think the beleaguered finances of the state of Illinois will take a big hit with this one.

2) Academics must seriously revisit their idea of social media and its role in the world of academia. It is NOT some bar or coffeeshop where one hangs out at after work to blow off steam with colleagues. Social media provides a highly visible public soapbox to very broad audiences. Social media like Twitter and Facebook are public forums and as such must be used responsibly and wisely. Yes, trolls abound on social media. To advocate the idea that academic freedom gives tenured professors the unquestioned right to act with the idiocy of trolls and present info as jaundiced as Fox News ideologues – well that is a terrible argument that does not serve academics well.

If the idea is that Twitter/Facebook, etc. are minor forms of communication not relevant in judging how a professor (or anyone else) presents himself to the world, please, you are living in ancient times. Social media moves the needle – witness the Arab Spring – where Twitter was used as newspapers were used by American rebels back in the late 18th century – to change public opinion. Witness the UC Davis pepper spray incident, when the university wanted to paint student protestors as violent rule-breakers who needed to be sprayed to preserve order. iPhone video posted on YouTube showed otherwise (though in the end, the cop got more money than the individual protestors he sprayed.)

Tenured professors are gifted with a fantastic opportunity to conduct research and engage in dialogue that can transform our lives. The idea that Salaita’s inappropriate language and enraged hysteria are defensible as part of “academic freedom” is perhaps the norm now in academia – but this needs to be changed. There is nothing at all “academic” about his polemical diatribes – and now all focus is on him – not the serious issues he screeched about loudly on Twitter. A terribly irresponsible misuse of a very powerful medium.

Words matter. Academics – of all people – should understand how best to use words wisely, no matter the forum. Passion has a place on social media – but please leave the hysteria to the trolls.

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Layman 08.30.14 at 2:03 pm

LFC @ 250

“This is, as you suggested, OT, but there is nothing in a general ‘Zionism’ (which is not monolithic, obvs.) that required Israel to hold onto the WB indefinitely after ’67, or to encourage settlement there.”

Of course; but doesn’t general Zionism require the taking of some territory in the ‘Land of Israel’ to make it an explicitly Jewish state? Is it that thoughtful Zionists are those Zionists who can be content with some of it, who would not take it all?

It seems to me that Zionism was always about denying the right to self-determination of some indigenous peoples. It may be understandable in the context of the times, but it’s hardly thoughtful. But I admit ignorance here, which is why I asked the question in the first place – what did / do thoughtful Zionists think?

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Ze Kraggash 08.30.14 at 2:28 pm

I don’t think ‘derogatory’ is the right word. It’s a description, but same as with ‘islamism': lifting your religious (or ethno-religious) identity to the top of your political agenda is antithetical to liberalism and to egalitarianism.

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Gator90 08.30.14 at 2:31 pm

Lynne 260:

It seems to me that anyone who favors a “two state solution” to the I/P dilemma may fairly be described as a Zionist, because such people support the permanent existence of an explicitly “Jewish” nation in Palestine, one that was, as you note, created in part through the violent expulsion of a substantial number of non-Jews. While they may not wish to “justify” that ethnic cleansing, they do wish to ratify it. By my lights then, and contrary to J Thomas’ interpretation, a number of Zionists have rallied to Professor Salaita’s defense.

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Gator90 08.30.14 at 2:46 pm

Layman 262: “It seems to me that Zionism was always about denying the right to self-determination of some indigenous peoples.”

I’m no historian of the Zionist movement, but I believe there was a time (as I’ve seen others observe in other fora) when Zionism consisted of little more than Jews moving to Palestine, buying some land, and starting farms. At some point, though (and I wouldn’t claim to know exactly when), it became something largely ugly and cruel.

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Layman 08.30.14 at 3:09 pm

@Gator99

I’m sure this is so, but even as far back as the First Zionist Congress, in 1897, the goal was to establish a Jewish state. They were cautious about how they said that, but the intent was there.

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T 08.30.14 at 3:16 pm

“lifting your religious (or ethno-religious) identity to the top of your political agenda is antithetical to liberalism and to egalitarianism.”

Of course when others lift your religious identity to the top of their political agenda your response should be to point out that’s antithetical to liberalism and egalitarianism? That’s a strategy that hasn’t worked so well for Jews in the past.

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Ze Kraggash 08.30.14 at 5:14 pm

@267, so, what are you saying? I don’t understand.

When you are being persecuted for your identity you have a choice: you could, in a sense, agree with your advesaries that your identity makes you essentially different, incompatible with the others. Or you could insist that identities are secondary to our common humanity (color of skin/content of character). It’s up to you which model (and consequently the course of action) you employ.

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godoggo 08.30.14 at 5:28 pm

Donald Johnson: I meant that, in the link I provided, the holocaust deniers were using the word “Zionist” to smear one of their critics. I’d seen the word “AIPAC” used casually in a similar way on another Wiki talk page. A recent comment here inspired me to take a look at that stuff. None of this is directly relevant to Salaita, though.

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Donald Johnson 08.30.14 at 5:37 pm

godoggo–I didn’t check your link. But yeah, I would expect Holocaust deniers to use terms like “Zionist” and “AIPAC” in anti-semitic ways. Kinda goes with the territory.

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J Thomas 08.30.14 at 5:59 pm

#226 LFC

“And that’s mostly because some of us are zionists and some are not.”

You have repeatedly asserted this, in comment after comment. But repeating it doesn’t make it so. This is not about Zionism. It’s about a lot of other things, but really not about that.

Sorry to be late replying, I was metaphoricly putting out fires.

I can’t imagine how you could think any reasonable person would agree it isn’t about zionism. That’s too stupid for words. But it isn’t only about zionism. It’s also about academic freedom, and freedom of speech, and relations between university administrations and their faculties, etc.

I predict that if we look at the people who think that Salaita’s tweets were in themselves adequate reason to reverse his hiring decision, they will almost all be zionists. Some non-zionists may say that the tweets were ill-mannered, regrettable, unfortunate, something better done anonymously etc, but will not say that they are sufficient reason in themselves to de-hire somebody.

I can think of a few exceptions. Somebody like Brett Bellmore might not be a zionist, and might still think that a university chancellor should have the right to de-hire anybody she wants to, so it doesn’t matter whether these tweets were sufficient cause — she didn’t need sufficient cause. It can be argued that whether or not they were right to do it, they can do it legally so nobody has any real right to complain.

When Democrats talk about Republicans this vociferously, or vice versa, we pretty much ignore it. Why did it get so much attention this time? Because zionism.

That isn’t the only thing that can do it. Like, if it had been somebody ranting about male supremacy, that would have seemed at least as bad and to many more people. But if it was a woman ranting about the same about female supremacy? I think we would ignore it. Women have been oppressed for so long and so thoroughly, we cut them some slack about getting angry when they have the chance to speak out. It isn’t parallel.

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J Thomas 08.30.14 at 6:23 pm

#229 LFC

Also, ‘Zionism’ does not = unqualified support for whatever the govt of Israel happens to do at any given time. (You might want to look up the word.) Admittedly it has taken on a variety of connotations, but I think you’re stretching them here.

Agreed, it no longer equals that, and I consider this a good development.

My brother in law was kicked out of his temple for criticizing Israeli treatment of palestinians. That’s when he became Reform. (It wasn’t just that, the rabbi told him how much he would contribute to Israel that year, and he refused because of palestinian treatment.)

For a long time, zionists who did not publicly show total support for Israeli actions got accused of self-hatred and were presented with various problems. I’m glad to see that as a little publicity for Begin’s and Sharon’s and Netanyahu’s excesses comes out, that is gradually beginning to change.

It was a travesty that American zionists were not allowed the diversity of discussion that was common in Israel itself.

Still, unthinking support appears to be the loudest voice today. Do you disagree?

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J Thomas 08.30.14 at 6:34 pm

#264 Gator90

It seems to me that anyone who favors a “two state solution” to the I/P dilemma may fairly be described as a Zionist [....]
By my lights then, and contrary to J Thomas’ interpretation, a number of Zionists have rallied to Professor Salaita’s defense.

Independent of your definition, you raise an important point. I think that it’s almost entirely zionists who think Salaita should have been dehired. But there’s room for zionists to be on both sides. Just, the ones who want him gone have so far gotten their way. It may have been as few as 79 of them who had the influence. Or maybe as few as one single wealthy zionist individual. So far, everybody on the other side of the issue appears to be losing.

But it isn’t completely over yet.

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J Thomas 08.30.14 at 6:37 pm

#279 godoggo

I meant that, in the link I provided, the holocaust deniers were using the word “Zionist” to smear one of their critics.

Doesn’t that make sense? Of course they would do that, being the kind of people they are.

The same kind of people will use “antisemite” as a smear word.

I’ve suffered that exact abuse myself on this very blog.

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AcademicLurker 08.30.14 at 6:50 pm

@261: inappropriate language and enraged hysteria are defensible as part of “academic freedom” is perhaps the norm now in academia – but this needs to be changed.

This concedes way too much. Who decides what counts as inappropriate language? As other have been pointing out, democrats and republicans, Ukrainians and Russians, & etc. have equally heated exchanges all the time, and yet it was only when the Israel-Palestine conflict was involved that a bunch of people suddenly discovered their deeply held commitment to civility.

P.Z. Meyers routinely calls intelligent design creationists liars and scoundrels. I’m sure the ID crowd would love it if they could get him fired by calling up his university and crying that they’re soooooo upset by the uncivil things he said on the internet that they are just certain that he can’t be trusted to teach students biology. In fact I believe they’ve tried it several times.

“Incivility is a firing offense” in practice hands control over what can be said to whatever group has the time and energy to throw hissy fits over statements they don’t like.

The current uproar is about one political group that wants to prove that they can claim a scalp in order to intimidate everyone else. That’s all it’s about.

Concern over “civility” has nothing to do with it.

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T 08.30.14 at 6:52 pm

@268
In some instances, the course you take doesn’t matter to the people that are defining you. Do you need examples? This isn’t all that hard.

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J Thomas 08.30.14 at 6:54 pm

#276 T

In some instances, the course you take doesn’t matter to the people that are defining you. Do you need examples? This isn’t all that hard.

Yes, we need look no farther than Salaita.

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Andrew F. 08.30.14 at 6:59 pm

Corey @237/238: You can read about the case which the AAUP references in AAUP Bulletin Vol. 50, No. 1 (Mar., 1964), pp. 44-57.

The case involves Professor D.F. Fleming, who was sent an offer by letter in January 1962 to join the University of Southern Florida the following September. He accepted. Arrangements were made. Nonetheless, the summer before the professor was to start, the President decided not to recommend him for approval.

Ultimately the AAUP censured the University of Southern Florida, finding that Fleming was, in their view, an appointed member of the faculty and judging his case as a dismissal of a member of the faculty.

The facts of the case of Professor Fleming all sound very familiar.

But frustratingly, and annoyingly, the AAUP’s letter to Wise omits a key difference.

As the AAUP states prominently in their report in the AAUP Bulletin referenced above: In neither of Dean Cooper’s letters was there any suggestion that the offer was tentative or that further steps were necessary to make the appointment official. It repeats this again in its more extensive consideration of the issue of whether the professor then in question was to be considered actually appointed.

Unfortunately this is an important factor. It was clearly considered an important factor in the 1964 AAUP decision, which referenced it prominently twice. And it is therefore an important distinction between the 1964 case and Salaita’s. In Salaita’s case it was stated, unambiguously and clearly in the written material provided to him, that his appointment depends upon the approval of the Board of Trustees.

As to the conduct referenced in the letter by the Department of AIS at UI, no reasonable person would assume this implied that the Board of Trustees had approved Salaita’s appointment. Nor could any reasonable person assume that the Department of AIS somehow spoke for the Board of Trustees.

The ultimate employment decision is granted by law, and in accordance with procedures specified by law, to the UI Board of Trustees. Professor Salaita had been notified of that fact.

While ordinarily the Board of Trustees and the Chancellor, undoubtedly, approves recommendations given or, in the case of the Chancellor, grants recommendations in agreement with those of the Dean, they may well do otherwise when facts come to their attention which cause them to more closely examine the recommendation given.

Now the AAUP may take issue, ultimately, with why they decided not to hire Professor Salaita. However I do not think the AAUP justified, even on the basis of the 1964 decision it cites, in viewing Professor Salaita as an appointed member of the faculty.

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T 08.30.14 at 7:30 pm

@277
Just to clarify the exchange, “you” referred to “religious (or ethno-religious)” groups. With Salaita, the opposition comes from either how he behaved or what he said (depending on your point of view), not because of his ethnicity. That’s distinct from say racism where it doesn’t matter what’s said, only the race of who said it.

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bianca steele 08.30.14 at 7:34 pm

Andrew @ 278

Your argument amounts to saying that the letter to Professor Salaita contained a kind of “magic word” that transformed the nature of what it indicated–in the absence of any other change in procedure. This is nonsense. In fact, as is clear from the AAUP letter and from anecdotes like the one at @239 changes the suggested by the “magic word” were explicitly never implemented. Moreover, additional words (admittedly, less magical-sounding ones) made it explicit what “approval” was supposed to amount to: an administrative rubber-stamp, one which the actual members of the board wouldn’t need to dirty their hands with. The fact that non-lawyers are intimidated by apparent “magic words” means nothing, any more than courts have upheld the “suitability for any particular purpose” magic words in the boilerplate OTS software license for your word processor, spreadsheet, or tax software.

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T 08.30.14 at 7:52 pm

@280
The Salaita situation has exposed a glaring unresolved gap in the hiring process of tenured laterals. The AAUP, unsurprisingly, argues that there is no gap and that the academic is entitled to the conditional offer. Of course, this interpretation implies that the authority of the board differs between lateral and internal hires. This gap will need to be resolved and should be resolved because of the nature of the hiring process.

Your point about the lack of conditionality in the earlier case is well taken. And the addition of this issue has raised the profile of this matter as compared to the Norm Finkelstein case.

282

LFC 08.30.14 at 8:04 pm

J Thomas
Still, unthinking support appears to be the loudest voice today. Do you disagree?

My short answer wd be: I’m not sure. No doubt some of the main organizations that are often taken to represent ‘mainstream’ American Jewish opinion have a policy of largely uncritical support of whatever the Israeli govt does (and this is also prob the dominant view in Congress), but I think this position is actually increasingly less representative of American Jews, among whom there seems to be increasing diversity and dissent on this. But I haven’t looked at the relevant opinion research, assuming it exists, so I don’t really know. But if you mean by “still the loudest” something like “still wield the most influence on Cap. Hill,” then yes.

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LFC 08.30.14 at 8:24 pm

Layman @262
Of course; but doesn’t general Zionism require the taking of some territory in the ‘Land of Israel’ to make it an explicitly Jewish state? Is it that thoughtful Zionists are those Zionists who can be content with some of it, who would not take it all?

It’s been a long time since I’ve done any reading on the hist. of Zionism, but if I recall correctly there were at one time some Zionists who suggested the est. of a Jewish state somewhere other than ‘the Land of Israel’. At least a couple of different sites in Africa were mentioned, as I recall. Obviously, these plans never went anywhere, but they were discussed in certain circles. Theodor Herzl might even have entertained such ideas briefly at one pt (but I don’t recall for sure). Since even in the late 19th/early 20th cent., few habitable places (incl. then-colonies) were completely unpopulated, some displacement of indigenous peoples prob wd still have occurred had one of these schemes been adopted — though perhaps not on the same scale as occurred in ‘the holy land’. (On a rather diff. note, there’s an odd historical sidelight about Stalin’s proposed ‘homeland’ for the Jews, which I wrote a short blog post about a long time ago, but I don’t remember the details now and I don’t have time at the moment to go back and check.)

So, in short, not *all* definitions of Zionism have always required that the Jewish state be established in the ‘Land of Israel,’ though the ‘non-Israel’ versions obvs. were not successful and fell by the wayside fairly early on.

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The Temporary Name 08.30.14 at 8:25 pm

I’m sure this is so, but even as far back as the First Zionist Congress, in 1897, the goal was to establish a Jewish state.

It’s hard to see that goal as too nefarious at that point in time, even an explicitly militaristic version. They were an abused people and there was not a lot of virtue in contemporary statecraft.

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LFC 08.30.14 at 8:46 pm

Layman @262
“It seems to me that Zionism was always about denying the right to self-determination of some indigenous peoples.” (emph added)

Not centrally, not in the early stages of Zionism. Political Zionism a la Herzl was modeled quite consciously (again, if my memory serves) on the European nationalist movements of the 19th cent. that contributed e.g. to the est. of unified Italian and German nation-states (and contributed decisively in the Italian case). Political Zionism saw Jews as ‘a people’ who had been persecuted for centuries and needed a territorial homeland of their own if they were ever to be free of persecution. Recall that in 1897 it was not yet at all clear that large Jewish communities could exist safely and freely as Jewish communities in other countries, and the historical record to date suggested a negative answer as to whether this was in the cards. Hence the idea of a natl homeland made sense to a lot of Jews on political and historical grounds. The Zionist ‘project’ was not originally conceived mainly as a mvt to deprive indigenous people of their rights, but rather as something closer to a mvt of ‘natl liberation’. That the latter goal came to involve the former, and *arguably* had entailed it all along, is one of the several tragedies, if not the main tragedy, of this particular slice of history.

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Layman 08.30.14 at 8:51 pm

@ LFC

“So, in short, not *all* definitions of Zionism have always required that the Jewish state be established in the ‘Land of Israel,’ though the ‘non-Israel’ versions obvs. were not successful and fell by the wayside fairly early on.”

Yes, of course, though if ‘thoughtful Zionists’ means those who were focused on other uninhabited places in 1898, does that mean there are no thoughtful Zionists now? If not, what do those modern thoughtful Zionists think?

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LFC 08.30.14 at 8:58 pm

Layman
Yes, of course, though if ‘thoughtful Zionists’ means those who were focused on other uninhabited places in 1898, does that mean there are no thoughtful Zionists now? If not, what do those modern thoughtful Zionists think?

First, perhaps a minor pt, I never used the phrase “thoughtful Zionists” (nor did anyone else, though I think C. Danby referred to a “thoughtful” version of the Zionist tradition). Second, I think a 2-state solution on terms that wd create a viable Palestinian state is entirely consistent w and prob even required by “thoughtful Zionism,” though it’s not a goal, unfortunately, that the current Israeli govt has shown any interest in seriously pursuing.

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Layman 08.30.14 at 8:59 pm

LFC @ 285

I think you’re ignoring the rather obvious point that it was impossible to establish a Jewish state in ‘the Land of Israel’ without displacing or subjugating the indigenous population. Thus any plan of Zionism with Israel as the goal was a plan to deny the indigenes their right to self-determination; the one could only be had with the other. I don’t think you can argue that this fact eluded the Zionists.

As I said before, subjugating indigenes was very much the going thing at the time, so it is perhaps understandable that such a plan was viewed as acceptable; but I can’t call it particularly thoughtful.

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LFC 08.30.14 at 9:07 pm

@Layman
What you have not done is described how “thoughtful” people “should” have responded to the dilemma to which political Zionism was a response. Presumably your answer is: they should have found some completely uninhabited piece of land that was either claimed/occupied by no state (terra nullius) or that was claimed/owned/administered by e.g. an imperial power that wd agree to give it to them. In hindsight, I can prob agree this wd have been the more “thoughtful” course. But hindsight is easy. Also, there were some Zionists who favored a bi-national state that wd have not have ‘subjugated the indigenes’. Again, obviously, that’s not how things worked out.

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Ze Kraggash 08.30.14 at 9:10 pm

276 “In some instances, the course you take doesn’t matter to the people that are defining you. Do you need examples? This isn’t all that hard.”

You seem to be arguing from some ‘victim complex’ position, albeit without clearly articulating it. Do you believe that the Jews (biologically? culturally? because of their religion?) are special: destined to be despised and persecuted by the others? This belief would be a justification for zionist enterprise, but like I said: you don’t have to hold it.

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Layman 08.30.14 at 9:12 pm

‘First, perhaps a minor pt, I never used the phrase “thoughtful Zionists” (nor did anyone else, though I think C. Danby referred to a “thoughtful” version of the Zionist tradition). ‘

Is there a ‘thoughtful Zionism’, but no ‘thoughtful Zionists’? I don’t grasp the point of this quibble.

‘Second, I think a 2-state solution on terms that wd create a viable Palestinian state is entirely consistent w and prob even required by “thoughtful Zionism,” though it’s not a goal, unfortunately, that the current Israeli govt has shown any interest in seriously pursuing.’

I think I’ve already suggested that this is where ‘thoughtful Zionism’ arrives, and as I’ve said this is my own view of the only practical solution at this point. Having said that, I don’t know how it elevates Zionism.

The proposed solution leaves Israel in possession of much of the colonized land, and it guarantees continued political subjugation of non-Jews who live in Israel. This is because, per Zionism, Israel must be a Jewish state. This requirement necessarily constrains the free choice of Israelis – Zionism doesn’t contemplate that they can vote to make a Israel a non-Jewish state. To maintain its Jewish character, Israel must sacrifice its desire for open democracy.

This is very much making the best of a bad job. Call it ‘pragmatic’ Zionism.

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Layman 08.30.14 at 9:25 pm

@ LFC

I’m sorry if I’m offending you. I think thoughtful people would not have persecuted Jews, or permitted such persecution, in the first place. That would have been ‘thoughtful’.

I can readily see Zionism as a product of the times and particular circumstances which created it, but beyond a certain point around the turn of the century, it became a project to colonize Palestine and subjugate Palestinian non-Jews. As such, I’m struggling to see how it can be defended ‘thoughtfully’. Pointing to thoughtfulness which occurred earlier is beside the point. What is ‘thoughtful’ Zionism now?

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T 08.30.14 at 9:32 pm

@290
So are you saying Jews haven’t been defined by others?

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Bruce Wilder 08.30.14 at 9:48 pm

Who is defining the indigenes?

295

Limericky Dicky 08.30.14 at 10:20 pm

Again, I repeat that quotation:

The University of Illinois Statutes (Article IX, Section 3.a.) provide that only the Board of Trustees has the authority to make formal appointments to the academic staff. New academic staff members will receive a formal Notification of Appointment from the Board once the hiring unit has received back from the candidate all required documents, so the appointment can be processed.

…and now AF, blatant and brazen:

There’s nothing in the letter, in the terms accompanying, or in the Illinois statutes cited therein, that imply Board approval is a rubber stamp.

Be advised: here is no devil’s advocate; no ‘wisdom of crowds’ in disaggregate. This stuff will obstruct us, divert and disrupt us. It’s specious; evasive; inaccurate.

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J Thomas 08.30.14 at 11:42 pm

#288 Layman

I think you’re ignoring the rather obvious point that it was impossible to establish a Jewish state in ‘the Land of Israel’ without displacing or subjugating the indigenous population. Thus any plan of Zionism with Israel as the goal was a plan to deny the indigenes their right to self-determination; the one could only be had with the other. I don’t think you can argue that this fact eluded the Zionists.

I can argue that it did elude them in the early days.

There was the widespread claim that Israel was not really populated, that it had become a sort of desert that nobody much lived in, that would need to be made fertile through much hard work.

Then, there was the idea that most of the few people who lived there were recent immigrants who had no particular attachment to the land. They could drift out as easily as they had drifted in.

And there was the idea that most of the land had absentee landowners who got a pittance off the poor farmers who tried to eke out a living on it. They would be happy to sell.

They might learn otherwise only by experience. Arabs who believed they owned their land even though somebody else held title in Dasmascus or Amman, arabs who made a decent living off what was after all the best land in the middle east, etc. Incidents of violence back and forth, the gradual realization that these were not people who could easily go wherever they wanted.

“A land without a people for a people without a land” might have been something that was sincerely believed until things had already gone wrong.

When I was a kid, sometimes I visited my grandparents up in the hills. A few times I tried to walk down the road to the west and somebody would always come get me before I had gone very far. They’d bring me back and say “He was heading out toward niggertown.” When I was around 40 once I thought to actually drive that way and see what was there. It was wall-to-wall mostly-white subdivisions. Probably it had mostly been rented, and the people who owned land were OK with selling and going elsewhere. Once segregation was gone they didn’t have to live in niggertown.

It was probably plausible for awhile that Israel could be like that. It just didn’t turn out that way.

It wasn’t inherent in the zionist idea that anybody had to be dispossessed. That was a reaction to unwelcome experience, and not part of the dream at all.

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Ze Kraggash 08.30.14 at 11:55 pm

“It wasn’t inherent in the zionist idea that anybody had to be dispossessed”

For Herzl, at least, it was going to be an outpost of European civilization against Asian barbarism. IOW: yes, nobody would have to be dispossessed, because barbarians don’t count.

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J Thomas 08.30.14 at 11:59 pm

#279 T
In some instances, the course you take doesn’t matter to the people that are defining you. Do you need examples? This isn’t all that hard.

“Yes, we need look no farther than Salaita.”

@277
Just to clarify the exchange, “you” referred to “religious (or ethno-religious)” groups. With Salaita, the opposition comes from either how he behaved or what he said (depending on your point of view), not because of his ethnicity. That’s distinct from say racism where it doesn’t matter what’s said, only the race of who said it.

Sure, and how zionists publicly defined Salaita was not so much from what he said, as what they said he said and what they said it meant.

It would be disingenuous to claim that who he was didn’t have a whole lot to do with it.

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Layman 08.31.14 at 12:01 am

J Thomas @ 296

“I can argue that it did elude them in the early days.”

Indeed, you seem able to argue anything. In any event, all you’re doing is proposing a later date by which ‘thoughtful’ Zionists ought to have understood the implications of their plan. When do you place it? When the non-existent indigenes rioted in the ’20s?

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J Thomas 08.31.14 at 12:36 am

#299

In any event, all you’re doing is proposing a later date by which ‘thoughtful’ Zionists ought to have understood the implications of their plan. When do you place it? When the non-existent indigenes rioted in the ’20s?

That was certainly a clue. By 1948 they understood they needed a good strong army and an air force, that the nearby weak arab nations would not stand by while the palestinian population got brutalized. Clearly there was a policy in place to get the arabs out of there. I haven’t researched the details. What I’ve found casually has been about a few incidents. Like, Lehi and Irgun did one where the claim is:

First they chose to attack a village that had a nonaggression treaty with Israelis, that was doing nothing wrong.
Second they attacked incompetently and could not win without help from Palmach.
Third they killed a lot of arabs unnecessarily.
Fourth they paraded their captives around in public and made Israel look bad.

Then other Israelis publicized the incident among arabs to scare them into leaving.

This could all be literally true, and it looks to me like a political hatchet job. It makes them look like a bunch of demented incompetents who deserve no place in government. And the implication is that they were the ones that did the atrocities. Pile the blame on them.

I can imagine two extremes. One is that there were hardly any atrocities but Israeli propaganda skillfully persuaded arab residents that there were lots of them and got them to flee. The other is that there were lots, but most did not get much reported in the west except a few done by political outcasts. Or it could be somewhere inbetween.

It seems to me that spreading terror could easily be done without full massacres. Done right, it would be enough to kill a few people in each of a fraction of villages to cause mass panic. It wouldn’t even be necessary to mention those few deaths in reports.

Anyway, by 1948 there were no illusions about living in peace with arab neighbors.

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LFC 08.31.14 at 1:17 am

There’s a book published a couple of yrs ago: Eyal Chowers, The Political Philosophy of Zionism (Cambridge UP) that I read a review of a few months ago. Chowers, to judge from the review, portrays a movement that mixed what we wd prob think of as ‘progressive’ w what we wd prob think of as ‘reactionary’ elements. Fwiw.

I see also that Hobsbawm has a few brief remarks about Herzl and Zionism in his chapter on nationalism (ch.6) in The Age of Empire (at which I was just glancing). While I wdn’t nec. put *too* much weight on the general tone of the remarks themselves, H. tends to be good at fitting things (incl. things he doesn’t like) into some context.

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Andrew F. 08.31.14 at 2:30 am

bianca @280: Your argument amounts to saying that the letter to Professor Salaita contained a kind of “magic word” that transformed the nature of what it indicated–in the absence of any other change in procedure. This is nonsense.

Not magic, just a clear statement that the Dean does not have the power to appoint Salaita to the faculty, and that the Board of Trustees alone has that power. Plain English, no spells required.

That statement was lacking in the 1964 case. In making its decision in 1964, the AAUP noted the absence of such statement.

That statement was not lacking in Professor Salaita’s case.

Look, even those claiming a super-deferential norm assume that the Board of Trustees does in fact have the power to say no to a recommendation. They claim this power is exercised only when certain types of red flags are raised and not others.

The tweets, they say, don’t rise to that level. The Board should ignore them and approved.

I understand that argument – but here’s the crucial point – the argument itself assumes that Salaita isn’t hired until the Board says so. So as a matter of employment status, Salaita is without a contract and without appointment on August 1st.

The alternative is to claim that the Dean’s letter – notwithstanding his disclaimer and the included reference to Illinois law – converted Salaita into tenured faculty as soon as Salaita accepted. At this point the Board can’t decide not to hire him regardless of what he does after accepting, because he’s already an employee. The Board has simply been excluded entirely from the hiring process.

So, for me, and I very strongly suspect for any court, Salaita was not a tenured member of the faculty as of August 1st.

Nor do I believe that the AAUP ought consider Salaita tenured faculty as of August 1st. To do so would be to ignore the clear written terms of the correspondence, in effect denying the University of Illinois the right in negotiations to reserve final decision to the Board, as required by law.

That leaves us with the next question:

Given Salaita’s tweets through July, did the Chancellor and Board act appropriately in not hiring him?

Just to sketch out the possibles:

1 – yes, those tweets, taken in conjunction with correspondence being received by the Chancellor, could lead a reasonable person in her shoes to determine Salaita would not be a good addition to the University

2 – no, those tweets should cause no reasonable person concern in an academic hiring context, and in any event the Board and Chancellor are to consider only matters that would bear upon Salaita’s performance as a teacher, scholar, and member of the community (or, in the super-deferential’s norm tellings, the Board should consider only intervening felonies.

I can’t find support for (2) anywhere other than testimonials on blogs swearing that it exists, and that it formed a reasonable part of Salaita’s expectations. I’m sure at the court case, to which this will never come, we’d at last get to see what a contested norm really, truly looks like.

I also just find it plain unpersuasive. Boards approve because there usually aren’t red flags brought to their attention. If there’s a red flag, they examine. And a red flag in a hiring context can be a lot of things (excluding all illegal red flags).

No Board of Trustees, where they exist, has been given so circumscribed a power to decline faculty recommendations. Instead they’ve been given quite broad power.

No establishing law or governing document describing Board approval at any relevant institution that I’m aware of contains a limitation that they can disapprove only in case of a felony.

So I’m really unconvinced by the unless the applicant commits a felony between the time he signs the other and your Board approval, you have no choice but to approve.

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Corey Robin 08.31.14 at 3:07 am

Andrew F: “Nor do I believe that the AAUP ought consider Salaita tenured faculty as of August 1st.”

That puts you in direct conflict with Chancellor Wise, who invited Salaita to a reception “‘welcoming faculty and academic professionals who joined the Illinois community in 2014.” Is that plain enough English for you? Or will you now insist on seeing an additional memo wherein it is stipulated, in writing, that “only faculty and academic professionals who joined the Illinois community in 2014 shall receive invitations from Chancellor Wise to receptions for faculty and academic professionals who joined the Illinois community in 2014.” Or perhaps we can now have a 100-comment long discussion about whether it’s a super-norm of academia or just a norm that only new faculty can be invited by the chancellor to a welcome reception for new faculty.

So you haven’t been able to come up with a single case of a Chancellor/Board dehiring someone after the university makes an offer — you know, by the way, that deans can’t just send out offer letters on their own, right? They have to be vetted by all the established offices (HR, Diversity, usually the Provost’s office, which I remember reading somewhere also signed off the appointment). I don’t know if you’re writing this for propaganda purposes or out of ignorance, but you keep treating the dean as if he is some sort of rogue actor acting on his own behalf, when of course, as I say, no dean can send out an offer letter unless it’s gone through all the institutional channels, usually up through provost — has the offer signed, makes a great many other arrangements (including having the Chancellor issue a formal invitation to a welcome reception for new faculty), and the person moving halfway across the country, having classes assigned to him (again, not just a department activity; that’s something that has to be cleared by the registrar’s office and other offices).

So you can’t come up with that. And you haven’t been able to come up with a single case of someone being invited to a welcome reception for new faculty at UIUC who was not in fact a new faculty at UIUC. Or perhaps you got such an invitation from Chancellor Wise?

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bianca steele 08.31.14 at 3:10 am

Not magic, just a clear statement that the Dean does not have the power to appoint Salaita to the faculty, and that the Board of Trustees alone has that power. Plain English, no spells required.

The question, it seems, is whether the clear statement is a true statement. The AAUP was satisfied, in other words, by the clarifying words. But in fact things went on as before, and everyone was expected to take action on the offer before the Board’s members voted. (What if on July 1, Professor Salaita had said sorry, I can’t move until you give me formal assurance? He would have been sued. For breach of contract that you say didn’t exist.) Even more, given the equally clear statement in the offer that board approval amounted to administrative processing of paperwork, the idea that board approval means a vote is undermined.

But there’s that “clear statement.” It sounds as if the AAUP thought the addition of the “clear statement” bound the university to act in a certain way (which is why they went away basically satisfied in 1964). What you’re saying is the opposite: that the “clear statement” binds everyone except the university to believe things that aren’t so. So when it’s convenient to act otherwise, the administration does that, and when it’s convenient to hold people to the letter of the “clear statement,” they do that instead.

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Andrew F. 08.31.14 at 9:23 am

Corey, I don’t know when that invitation was sent. I suspect it was sent either before or during Chancellor Wise becoming aware of Salaita’s tweets.

Regardless however, an invitation to a Chancellor’s cocktail hour for new faculty does not constitute notice that the Board of Trustees approved his appointment; and indeed Salaita was told the manner in which the Board would notify Salaita should such approval be forthcoming.

The University of Illinois may well have, as other institutions do, titles and procedures for those who begin work even though Board approval is pending. There is no doubt that Salaita may well have begun work at the University prior to the Board’s approval. And Professor Salaita would have assumed the risk that the Board might not ultimately approved, had he done so, and that his term of employment would end with the academic term or year.

Ordinarily this risk is minimal, because ordinarily red flags that excite national attention do not come to the attention of the Chancellor and the Board after the Dean’s offer letter is sent but before they have recommended and approved.

When they come before the Dean’s offer letter and recommendation, the Dean’s offer letter and recommendation is unlikely to be sent at all, removing any need for the Chancellor or Board to confront them.

And that is why most, once they have the Dean’s letter in hand, undertake the risk, and think little of it.

And that is why – while I think it an entirely stupid hiring practice that exposes academics in a manner that I find just shy of unconscionable – while I think, as I said in my first comment on this subject, that the University of Illinois ought speedily revise its hiring practices – I also understand why it is a system which functions.

That is, because actions by a Chancellor, or a Board, to reject a recommendation are rare, nearly all hiring goes by plan. As to the reason for this rarity – perhaps it is in part the product of the judicious selection of faculty, who ever unswayed by viewpoint discrimination or personal affront, send up only qualified candidates without the kind of serious red flags that the Chancellor and Board would see and then act to disapprove.

Yet this rarity of action has also led to vague and varied understandings of when the Chancellor and Board ought follow the recommendations sent to them and when they ought not.

The most favorable answer to that question from a faculty advantage is that, barring the commission of a relevant felony by the candidate, the Chancellor and Board ought otherwise follow the recommendations.

That interpretation grants to the faculty too much power in the hiring process, and the Board of Trustees too little power to protect the interests of the institution. I am in favor of substantial deference, but not to that extent. And any realistic standard of deference will, because of the limits of language, leave areas of uncertainty.

It remains an arguable issue whether the red flags in question justified the University’s action to decline approval. I really would like to see further evidence of what any norm might be concerning the University’s action. I take you at your word as to your view on the matter, and those of others. But your personal observations, and those of a few others, are not enough to settle the matter – though I place high value upon them, and would not bother commenting here at all if I didn’t.

What seems less and less arguable though is that the red flags, whether sufficient or not, came to their attention before Professor Salaita was appointed to the faculty, however close he may have been, however rightly – until his July tweets – he may have expected it.

Therefore the crucial issue remains: were Professor Salaita’s tweets such that the Chancellor, given the information she had available to her, and such that the members of the Board, given the information they had available to them, were justified in rejecting the recommendations of the department and dean below?

As to others, who believe that only those who must hate Salaita for his views can be those who think the Chancellor acted, controversially but reasonably and legitimately, within her powers, all I can say is that you are wrong in at least one case. Quite frankly, my sympathy lies entirely with Professor Salaita. It is true that I find his views on Israel and Palestine to be composed of entirely understandable emotion and very little understandable reason; that I think his support of the “decolonization of North America” to be likely to be quite dubious; that I think his tweets in July were offensive, small-minded, ignorant, disrespectful in the extreme to those with sound reason to disagree with him, and intolerant of the mere possibility of a different view. This does not diminish my sympathy for the man who horribly has lost tenure while in transit between appointments, who must surely be wracked with severe financial and professional worry, and who has a family to support through it all. Had I it in my power, I would restore his position at Virginia Tech without further thought.

My head is not supportive – yet – of the push to have the University of Illinois instate Salaita because of all the reasons I have given – not because of Salaita’s beliefs, nor because of my disagreement with them.

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J Thomas 08.31.14 at 10:21 am

#303 Corey Robin

So you haven’t been able to come up with a single case of a Chancellor/Board dehiring someone after the university makes an offer — you know, by the way, that deans can’t just send out offer letters on their own, right?

You are responding yet again to Andrew F.

“You can keep doing that forever, the dog is NEVER going to move.” Captain Jack Sparrow

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J Thomas 08.31.14 at 10:42 am

#305 Andrew F.

It remains an arguable issue whether the red flags in question justified the University’s action to decline approval.

Quite frankly, my sympathy lies entirely with Professor Salaita.

So, you don’t argue that they were right to de-hire him, but you argue that right or wrong, they had the right to make the decision?

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T 08.31.14 at 4:48 pm

@298
Without touching on the merits, it’s not because of his ethnicity. See Norm Finkelstein.

@307
Yes, yes, and yes. There are two distinct issues: 1) does the board have the right to say no after the letter was sent and signed especially at that late a date and 2) if, in fact, the board does have that power, does Salaita’s actions justify the board not approving tenure.

Corey and others have argued that historical norms imply and that the hiring was complete or, at a minimum, the standard for disapproval is extraordinarily high at that late date. Andrew is looking at the the plain language of the letter and the statute and thinks the board has the right. I have been troubled that Corey’s position would imply that the state of Illinois gave the board different powers of oversight for laterals and internals. Everyone agrees that the board’s actions drew attention to a huge gap in the hiring process where tenured faculty are left with no job at their former employer and are not given new employment due to the conditionality of the accepted offer.

I hope I’ve summarized the positions correctly. I certainly didn’t intend to put words in anyone’s mouth.

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J Thomas 08.31.14 at 8:07 pm

#308 T

Without touching on the merits, it’s not because of his ethnicity. See Norm Finkelstein.

Whew! So, here’s a Jewish scholar whose parents survived the concentration camps, and when no one could argue against his anti-Israel evidence, they denied him tenure.

And so your argument is that it doesn’t matter that Salaita is Palestinian because another university (threatened by presumably the same zionists, or possibly different zionists) treated a Jewish man the same way!

I can see various ways to reason about this and I’m not sure which of them you are using. Would you mind spelling out your argument in more detail?

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Dan Riley 09.01.14 at 2:22 am

Apologies for distracting from the main thread, but does anyone when and how the UIUC library will be disposing of all their holdings containing “personal and disrespectful words [...] that demean and abuse either viewpoints themselves or those who express them”?

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Collin Street 09.01.14 at 3:08 am

I have been troubled that Corey’s position would imply that the state of Illinois gave the board different powers of oversight for laterals and internals.

Your problem is thinking that the only thing that matters is whether the Board is within their legal powers to act as they have.

But the fact is, there’s a whole branch of the law called “equity” that deals with limitations on people’s legal rights: how and under what circumstances you become prohibited from doing something that’s your plain black-letter legal right [or equally obliged to do something that isn't your black-letter legal obligation]. Injunctions, laches, orders for specific performance. Estoppel.

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