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Salaita Appointment to Be Forwarded to Board

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Interesting.

Corey Robin permits himself a little cautious optimism. Alas, I suspect John Wilson’s take will prove accurate:

There is not a chance in hell that [an appointment of Salaita] will happen. I can see only two explanations for this decision: 1) Wise wants to head off criticism (and, as Robin points out, Wise wants to prevent a possible legal challenge) that she violated a procedural rule by failing to forward the appointment to the Board of Trustees. 2) The trustees are upset that she removed the opportunity for them to vote against Salaita, and they want the chance to publicly double fire Salaita.

Considering that all of the trustees signed a letter embracing Salaita’s firing, it would be shocking if even a single trustee voted for Salaita. The Sept. 11 Board of Trustees meeting will obviously be the center of considerable attention, but it ultimately will not change the decision.

I would guess that Corey’s second, more pessimistic interpretation is relevant to the Wise’s formal reversal. Given that UIUC’s attempt to square the academic freedom circle involved reliance on the literal language of his contract (while ignoring the well-established norms Salaita was very reasonably relying on), the fact that Wise’s pocket veto was not really consistent with the literal language of the contract might have presented a problem. By having the trustees explicitly vote the appointment down, their chances of making a Halbig-style argument in a defense to a civil suit and getting away with minimal or no damages might be increased.

I certainly hope I’m wrong. My most detailed explanation for why UIUC’s firing of Salaita is plainly inconsistent with academic freedom can be found here.

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