Professor Steven Salaita was terminated from a tenured faculty position at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) because he sent out tweets through his personal Twitter account that were critical of Israel’s assault on Gaza. Yesterday, he delivered his first statement on what happened to a room full of supporters on the UIUC campus—a number of which had walked out of their classes.
He announced that he was focused on communicating with the university so he could be reinstated and, if he was not reinstated, the university would likely face a lawsuit for violating his constitutional rights by terminating him based on the content of his speech.
Eleven departments at the university entered no-confidence votes in Chancellor Wise. Lectures and a national conference scheduled at the university have been canceled, and academics from various discipline have signed on to letters opposing the university’s termination.
Salaita had been a faculty member at the English Department of Virginia Tech since 2006. There he had lifetime tenure. In 2013, he was vetted and recruited to become a part of the faculty at the American Indian Studies program at UIUC. According to Salaita, he “accepted an offer from the interim Dean of the College of Liberal Artas and Sciences to join the university as a professor with lifetime tenure.”