Recently, the Academic Senate’s faculty Committee on Academic Freedom and Tenure (CAFT) concluded that in the case of Steven Salaita the University failed to live up to its commitment to full and careful compliance with University procedures. We are now facing the very real threat of censure from the national AAUP unless we act upon the CAFT report recommendations.

The CAFT report makes three recommendations to remedy this failure.

First,  “Steven Salaita’s candidacy [should] be remanded to the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences for reconsideration by a body of qualified academic experts.”  We request that Chancellor Wise charge the Dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences to form a committee of qualified academic experts, chosen in consultation with the College Executive Committee, who will examine the question of whether Steven Salaita’s candidacy should be terminated on grounds of his “professional unfitness” under the standards laid out in the University Statutes and the AAUP governing documents referenced in the CAFT Report.  Some faculty members have suggested that a “fair and objective review” of Steven Salaita’s professional fitness is no longer possible in this “highly politicized and polarized campus.” We repudiate such cynicism. There is no reason to believe that a duly constituted committee is incapable of completing a fair and objective personnel action in this or in any other case. If Professor Salaita is ultimately found to be professionally fit to serve as Associate Professor in the Program in American Indian Studies, we expect that Chancellor Wise will thereupon forward his letter of hire to the Board of Trustees with a recommendation of approval. If he is found unfit to serve according to the standards articulated in the University Statutes and relevant AAUP governing documents, his candidacy may then be officially terminated.

CAFT’s second recommendation is that “statements made by the Chancellor, President, and Trustees asserting civility as a standard of conduct should be withdrawn.” We ask that all named parties should offer an official retraction of their statements concerning civility as a standard of conduct.

Finally, the CAFT Report recommends that “the university take responsibility for the financial consequences to Dr. Salaita of its irregular adherence to its own policies and procedures.” We ask for the university to make a good-faith effort to fulfill all its financial obligations to Steven Salaita. We understand that the financial consequences to Steven Salaita include at a minimum the loss of his salary from the start date of his employment stipulated in his October 3, 2013 letter of hire to either the date of assumption of his teaching duties at the university or to the date of the official termination of his candidacy.

In a statement issued on January 15, 2015, the Trustees of the University of Illinois have declared that they will not reconsider the appointment of Steven Salaita if it comes before them a second time. They have said their decision is final. We hope that they will change their position on this matter. We hope that they will not want to take responsibility for placing the entire University of Illinois under censure from the AAUP.  The only way forward now is to follow the recommendations of the CAFT Report. Please show your support for this petition by emailing with your name, title, and affiliation. Finally, please share this petition with others.

Published by CFA

The Campus Faculty Association (CFA) is an advocacy organization for faculty and other campus workers committed to shared governance, academic freedom, and a strong faculty voice on campus.

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