The Center for Constitutional Rights sent a letter to University of Illinois Chancellor Phyllis M. Wise on August 7, 2014 regarding her decision to terminate the appointment of Professor Steven Salaita at the University based on the content of his constitutionally-protected speech critical of the Israeli government’s military and political actions in Gaza.
advises Chancellor Wise that any attempt by university officials to repress or penalize speech on a matter of public concern such as Israel/Palestine because of disagreement with its message is impermissible “viewpoint discrimination,” a serious First Amendment violation. Beyond the First Amendment violation committed in this instance, the letter argues, the University has “betrayed elementary principles of academic freedom which naturally extends protections to faculty members’ ability to ‘speak or write as citizens,’ and which must be free from ‘institutional censorship or discipline.’” Chancellor Wise summarily terminated Professor Salaita’s appointment to a tenured position after he made a number of posts to his social media platforms regarding the atrocities being committed by the Israeli government in Gaza. CCR’s letter strongly urges Chancellor Wise to retract her decision and reaffirm the right of members of the University of Illinois community to engage vocally and vociferously on matters of great public concern.
To read the full letter, click here.