Chancellor Phyllis Wise Explains the Firing of Steven Salaita

ACADEME BLOG

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign chancellor Phyllis Wise has written an open letter to the campus (copied below) explaining her decision not to allow the hiring of Steven Salaita. The letter is an appalling attack on academic freedom and a rejection of the basic values that a university must stand for.

Wise argues, “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.” Of course, this standard is ridiculous: individuals should be free to say personal and “disrespectful” things about others (for example, everyone should be free to say that Wise’s argument here is both stupid and evil, without facing punishment from the respect police). Respect is not a fundamental value of any university, and being “disrespectful” is not an academic crime. But it’s notable that Salaita really didn’t…

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