News Local/State

Salaita to Speak on Urbana Campus Tuesday


Steven Salaita, whose faculty appointment to the University of Illinois was cancelled amid controversy over social media messages about Israel, will speak on the Urbana campus for the first time since his faculty appointment was withdrawn.

The Center for Constitutional Rights says Salaita will hold a news conference on Tuesday, September 9th at 12:30 PM at the University YMCA, at the corner of Wright and Chalmers streets in Champaign.

According to a news release from the Center, Salaita will discuss his termination “in the larger context of organized attacks on free speech on campuses and concerns about academic freedom and the First Amendment raised by the incident”.

Salaita has kept a low public profile since his faculty appointment was withdrawn by Urbana campus Chancellor Phyllis Wise. He has posted little on his Twitter account, where his previous comments about Israel’s attacks against Hamas in Gaza sparked the current controversy.

Salaita’s news conference is timed to follow a walkout organized by students protesting the withdrawal of his appointment.

Faculty at the Urbana campus have come out on both sides of the issue. Several faculty members have signed petitions, one that supports Salaita and another that supports Chancellor Wise.  Separately, eleven units in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences have passed no-confidence votes against Wise for her decision. Meanwhile, faculty in the Department of Animal Sciences in the College of Agricultural, Consumers and Environmental Sciences have signed a letter supporting Wise.

Supporters of Salaita have also organized an academic boycott of the U of I Urbana campus, and several national organizations have issued statements supporting Salaitaincluding the American Association of University Professors and the Modern Language Association. Meanwhile, university trustees and President Robert Easter have endorsed Wise's decision to withdraw Salaita's faculty appointment.