U of I professor loses job over controversial tweets, fighting for job back
Steven Salaita was set to start teaching the University of Illinois this fall but his job was revoked just before the start of the school year after posting dozens of tweets criticizing Israel. Now the professor says he wants his job at the Urbana-Champaign campus back.
The controversy started this summer, when Salaita posted tweets criticizing Israel’s latest military action in Gaza. Some of the tweets use profanity and call out Obama and the U.S. Senate.
After the tweets spread, the university says it received emails and phone calls from students, alumni and donors calling for it to rescind Salaita's job offer.
Chancellor Phyllis Wise made the decision to do so in August with the support of trustees and top university officials who said in a statement that there's no place at the university for disrespectful and demeaning speech.
Salaita and his supporters say that violates his right to free speech and academic freedom. Surrounded by supporters, Salaita spoke publicly for the first time today about the university's decision.
"The Administration's actions have caused me and my family great hardship. Even worse, the Administration's actions threaten principles of free speech, academic freedom, and critical thought that should be the foundation of any university,” he said.
The university today said that it stands by the decision not to hire Salaita.
The board of trustees has a meeting scheduled this Thursday morning.
Demonstrations are planned but it's unclear if board will address the matter.