The full text is here, but I'd call particular attention to this given recent mischief by universities carrying the fake Civility Banner:
[I]t is not the proper role of the University to attempt to shield individuals from ideas and opinions they find unwelcome, disagreeable, or even deeply offensive. Although the University greatly values civility, and although all members of the University community share in the responsibility for maintaining a climate of mutual respect, concerns about civility and mutual respect can never be used as a justification for closing off discussion of ideas, however offensive or disagreeable those ideas may be to some members of our community.
Curious--an apology for the idiotic civility e-mail (that inspired this), but no commitment on whether to follow the Committee's recommendation that Salaita's appointment be taken up again by the College of Liberal Arts.
ADDENDUM: She also notes that Illinois has offered to compensate Salaita for his "reasonable losses," but I'm quite sure the University's definition of that and Salaita's differ. His "reasonable losses" would include not only all the moving and litigation costs, but also 35 years of salary and benefits. My expectation, as I noted early on, is that the case will not settle until Salaita's main lawsuit (for breach of contract, violation of his constitutional rights, etc.) survives the motion to dismiss and discovery is set to begin: many lawsuits settle at that point, and Illinois's incentive to not have all the (no doubt) unseemly details of what really happened aired in public will lead them to a new interpretatoin of "reasonable losses," that will be a bit closer to reality.
We do not believe that Dr. Salaita’s political speech renders him unfit for office. Further, we find that civility does not constitute a legitimate criterion for rejecting his appointment, and we recommend that statements made by the Chancellor, President, and Trustees asserting civility as a standard of conduct be withdrawn.
The report also finds that the University violated its own rules and recommends "that the university take responsibility for the financial consequences to Dr. Salaita of its irregular adherence to its own policies and procedures." (Thanks to Rick Laugesen for the pointer.)
It also recommends that a committee re-evaluate the appointment and, somewhat surprisingly, suggests the committee can consider whether his tweets bear on his "fitness." There's a useful discussion (under the heading "Fitness") of this aspect of the report here. This seems to me more dubious, and I note that the Committee itself is forced to defend its suggestion by claiming the circumstances here are (allegedly) sui generis.
I should note that the Committee includes one leading academic freedom (and labor and employment law) expert from the University of Illinois law faculty, Matthew Finkin.
This is an open letter on behalf of the Harvard Philosophy Department’s Graduate Student Organization. We were very concerned to learn about the public attacks by Marquette Professor John McAdams against Marquette graduate student Cheryl Abbate.
Anyone who teaches ethical theory will have to manage conversations involving politically sensitive topics, and in doing so, it is impossible to express agreement with every student on every occasion. Indeed, part of the point of an ethical theory course is to equip students to examine critically even their most deeply held views on moral issues.
These are sound and sensible points. But then the letter continues:
However one may characterize Cheryl Abbate’s way of managing a discussion of same-sex marriage inside or outside the classroom, she ought not to have been subject to the public attack orchestrated by Professor John McAdams. As a foreseeable result of this attack, Cheryl Abbate has been subject to an overwhelming volume of hate mail and threats, as well as negative attention in national media. In initiating this flurry of attacks, we believe that Professor McAdams exploited the power differential between a professor and a graduate student.
Universities owe their graduate students—who are among the most vulnerable members of their communities—a guarantee of protection from this kind of treatment. But at Marquette, we were recently disturbed to learn, Cheryl Abbate was put in a position where her best option was to transfer out of her doctoral program.
We call on Marquette to articulate a clear policy for protecting its graduate students from abuses by more powerful members of its community.
There is much that is strange about this, in roughly ascending order of significance:
1. Ms. Abbate was able to transfer to a much better program (Colorado), a silver lining in an otherwise dark rain cloud. It's hard not to see her as being better off professionally in the end, despite the ugliness that prompted her to transfer.
2. Professor McAdams's creepy behavior was not in any way facilitated by "the power differential between a professor and a graduate student." Note, first, that McAdams is, despite his many years in the academy, still merely an Associate Professor of Political Science. And apparently even his local institutional clout is so meager that the University is unabashed to suspend him without a hearing. More importantly, since Ms. Abbate was a student in the philosophy department, McAdams had no power over her at all. What enabled him to ignite a right-wing firestorm was his ability to use his blog to tap into a pre-existing network of "conservative" social and traditional media that love narratives about intolerant liberals in the academy. This has nothing to do with power differentials between faculty and students; graduate students, after all, have pulled the same kind of stunt against tenured professors! There is a serious problem with the way in which social media is used to harass faculty and students, which we have noted before, and universities ought to defend their teachers and students against such attacks, as they sometimes do, but not by punishing faculty or student speech.
3. In this regard, I do wonder what these graduate students are asking Marquette for by way of "a clear policy for protecting its graduate students from abuses by more powerful members of its community"? Presumably, the University already protects students, including instructors, from sexual harassment, physical assault, and other unlawful misconduct. But is it to protect them from speech critical of their pedagogy? How can a university, consistent with a commitment to free speech and inquiry, including about its own teaching and research, possibly "protect" anyone from that?
IMPORTANT UPDATE: A PhD student in philosophy at Harvard writes:
As a PhD student in the philosophy dept. here at Harvard, I wanted to write you regarding your recent post on your blog, entitled “More on the Marquette Case.” As you noted there, a letter was written by the “graduate students in philosophy at Harvard,” addressed to the Dean at Marquette. However, not all the students in our department approved of this letter, and indeed, some of us wanted not to send it. It was sent because we were outnumbered in a straight vote about whether to send it; effectively we had no choice after that vote.
I, for one, agree with your analysis of the latter half of the letter, and wanted to clarify, for what it’s worth, that the letter does not speak for all the students of the department. Rather it represents some of the more politically-inclined folks who get riled up about these sorts of things and then take action ‘on behalf of the students’ as soon as they have a straight majority. There is at least some significant minority of us not represented by this letter.
I had suspected as much, but it's good to have confirmation of this fact.
ANOTHER: Jeremy David Fix, another PhD student at Harvard (who gave permission to use his name), writes:
While I did not help compose the letter, the voting process did not require a 'straight majority'. A 75% majority was required to pass the motion and send the letter. This requirement was clearly stated in the open graduate student meeting where the letter was discussed, the email that asked for the vote through an anonymous online survey, and the email that confirmed the result of the vote, as far as I remember. Though my colleague is correct that "not all the students in our department approved of this letter, and indeed, some of us wanted not to send it", the actual percentage of supporting votes was significantly higher than 75%. Whatever the validity of the concerns about the content of the letter, this letter in no way indicates that the graduate community is overrun by politically motivated folks illegitimately pretending to speak for others.
I agree that there is no evidence that "the graduate community is overrun by politically motivated folks illegitimately pretending to speak for others," and I did not interpret the original e-mail, above, that way. The unknown is how many of the graduate students actually voted (my originally correspondent thinks only about 20 of the 40 students in the program voted). In any case, the important point, given that the letter is not very sensible, is that not all Harvard graduate students supported it.
I regret taking so long to write you an email expressing my regrets and frustration about how you have been treated by many of your colleagues lately. I have been trying my best to ignore it since I am on the market this year with very much to do and can't afford to let myself be so upset by the disturbing eagerness with which so many people (which included some of my friends, who are good people) seem so eager to jump on the leiter-bashing bandwagon. It is hard not to view it as largely the kind of group-think, social-signaling moralistic aggression that I still am apparently naive enough to be shocked and angered by when professional philosophers engage in it en masse. It saddens me to think of a large section of my colleagues as the "public" in Rushdie's famous quote from “At the Auction of the Ruby Slippers”:
"We, the public, are easily, lethally offended. We have come to think of taking offence as a fundamental right. We value very little more highly than our rage, which gives us, in our opinion, the moral high ground. From this high ground we can shoot down at our enemies and inflict heavy fatalities. We take pride in our short fuses. Our anger elevates, transcends."
This isn't to say that none of your critics have any valid points, or that I agree with everything you say... What galls me is the eagerness with which so many people want to signal their superior moral status by means of shooting down at you from their ostensibly greater moral heights, when in reality, few if any of your loudest critics have done as much for academic philosophy, or issues relating to the academy more broadly (freedom of speech especially) as you have. Or so it seems to me. I am surely biased since I read your blog more than others.
Again, I'm sorry it took me so long to write you, but I clearly should have earlier, not only for whatever sense of support you might get from it, but because I feel a lot better now too having finally expressed some of these thoughts. In the current climate, I do not feel at liberty to express my opinions on this subject in public. I would feel much safer publicly posting criticisms of U.S. or Israeli state terrorism than I would expressing support for you--or much worse, criticism of some of your critics. That in itself is a very sad state of affairs for the discipline, especially since the people I would be most wary of are many of those who make the loudest demands for (their approved forms of) inclusivity.
An interesting perspective, though I think the salience of social media amplifies what is actually a minority kind of censoriousness and priggishness masquerading as the moral high ground. Just as we can be confident that I won't stop enforcing my legal rights or calling out charlatans and hacks, we can be confident that it is quite a bit more risky to be a vocal critic of Israel than it is to to be a vocal supporter of me against a minority of web-savvy wrongdoers.
IHE has the latest details. The right-wing Volokh blog, whose selective interest in these issues is well-known, suggests this violates the professor's academic freedom. That seems to me dubious, except on a very capacious conception of academic freedom in which anything an academic says is part of that freedom, a conception which has no legal status. Professor McAdams's research profile does not suggest that his blogging critical of a colleague's teaching practices had anything to do with his scholarship, and so academic freedom is not at issue. On the other hand, he is clearly being punished for his speech, and while Marquette, as a private employer, is not bound by constitutional standards, it should honor a moral commitment to freedom of speech. As the IHE article notes, McAdams's suspension also does seem very suspect from the standpoint of AAUP guidelines. The strongest argument that could be made in favor of the university's action, at least on the facts that are public, is that by inciting a right-wing firestorm about the philosophy instructor's teaching, Professor McAdams interfered with university functions, though I'm not sure how persuasive I find that argument. (Consistent with the New Infantilism now running rampant in the blogosphere, some people suggested that because the philosophy instructor was a graduate student, though one running her own class, and McAdams a faculty member in a different department, he had some kind of special pedagogical or other obligation not to criticize her. That argument has no merit as a matter of law or AAUP norms.)
UPDATE: Over at IHE, there is a strong statement in the comments from longtime academic freedom commentator John K. Wilson (one of the few who was consistently on the right side of the Ward Churchill debacle):
I haven't studied the case enough to make a judgment on whether the TA was right or wrong (or both). But I know with certainty that Marquette is wrong to suspend a professor for talking about the case and expressing an opinion. McAdams is perfectly free to publicly criticize a TA's approach, and nothing about it constitutes harassment or some violation of privacy. The fact that the university can't even clarify exactly why they're suspending McAdams is particularly suspect. McAdams' blog should not be grounds for any kind of investigation; the fact that he was suspended without a hearing shows that this punishment is entirely illegitimate.
That last point is particularly important: suspension without even a hearing indicates that Marquette has just left the AAUP universe. What a disgrace.
ANOTHER: Justin Weinberg (South Carolina) offers a rather tendentious characterization of McAdams's offenses in the third update, and even if it were all true, it would not justify suspension without even a hearing. That McAdams is a right-wing creep is not grounds for his being sanctioned for his speech. Particularly odd is Weinberg's complaint that McAdams failed to show "any concern for Abbate’s welfare or future academic career." But McAdams has no obligation whatsoever to be concerned about this: Abbate is not his student, indeed, is not even in his department. The idea that this is a sanctionable offense on McAdams's part is, itself, a symptom of the New Infantilism, for which Weinberg's blog has become a leading cyber-cheerleader (though to his credit, he permits fairly wide-ranging discussion in the comments).
...from 34 department and program heads at the Urbana-Champaign campus (including Philosophy, History, Chemistry, Mathematics, and Sociology, among others) regarding the deleterious effects the Salaita firing has had on numerous departments: Download Open letter to Dr Killeen. An excerpt:
The recent words and actions of senior officials in connection with the decision to revoke an offer of a tenured position in American Indian Studies to Dr. Steven Salaita have done genuine damage to the university, and especially to the Urbana-Champaign campus, that remains largely unrecognized outside of the affected units. The program in American Indian Studies has itself obviously suffered the most as the result of the administration’s actions, but the harm to other units is also significant and ongoing. Representatives of the American Anthropological Association, the American Comparative Literature Association, the American Historical Association, the American Philosophical Association, the American Sociological Association, the American Studies Association, and the Modern Languages Association, among others, have issued strongly worded statements or letters critical of the university. More than 5,000 academics from across the country and around the world have expressed their disapproval by boycotting UIUC. More than three-dozen scheduled talks and multiple conferences across a variety of disciplines – including, for example, this year’s entire colloquium series in the Department of Philosophy – have already been canceled, and more continue to be canceled, as outside speakers have withdrawn in response to the university’s handling of Dr. Salaita’s case. The Department of English decided to postpone a program review originally scheduled for spring 2015 in anticipation of being unable to find qualified external examiners willing to come to campus. Tenure and promotion cases may be affected as faculty at peer institutions consider extending the boycott to recommendation letters.
Most troubling of all, the ability of many departments to successfully conduct faculty searches, especially at the senior level, has been seriously jeopardized. While the possible negative effects on even junior searches remain to be seen, the Department of History has already abandoned a previously authorized senior search in U.S. history this year in recognition of the bleak prospects of attracting suitable applicants in the current climate. An open rank search in Philosophy attracted 80% fewer applicants at the rank of associate or full professor than a senior search in the same area of specialization just last year. We have long been proud of the University of Illinois’ ability to maintain and extend its excellence through the recruitment of the very best scholars in the world. In many disciplines, however, we cannot hope to recruit excellent senior faculty to this campus, or to retain many of those already here, when they can no longer trust that this university will honor the principles of faculty decision-making, free speech, and freedom to conduct research.
...which is under AAUP investigation (and, I expect, likely censure) for its elimination of large numbers of faculty positions. (Earlier item.) If you sign the letter, use the location field to give your institutional affiliation.
The Republican agenda for next year also includes several changes for the University of Wisconsin, according to Vos. He said that he wants to ensure that faculty spend more time teaching, and that research is geared toward helping the state's economy.
“Of course I want research, but I want to have research done in a way that focuses on growing our economy, not on ancient mating habits of whatever,” said Vos. “So we want to try to have priorities that are focused on growing our economy.”
Vos and Joint Finance Committee Chairman John Nygren were asked whether they were open to a budget request by the UW that would increase funding for the System by $95 million dollars. Nygren called that a “tough sell,” saying he didn't think the state should make up for funding the System lost as part of a mandatory tuition freeze.
A nice aspect of the briefly overboard smear campaign back in September was that I got tons of e-mails from friends, colleagues, students, former students and former colleagues offering sympathy, praise, words of appreciation, and so on. But one theme that came up a lot was the alleged similarities between the (partially successful) campaign to oust me from the PGR and what the University of Illinois did to Steven Salaita. At first, I didn't give this much thought, because of the two obvious differences: Salaita lost his livelihood, whereas the smear campaigners targetted only my editing the PGR, not my livelihood; and Salaita's "offensive" speech was on matters of public concern, whereas mine was not. But as more correspondents raised it, it did seem to me there were some moderately interesting similarities: first, the critics of both Salaita and of me were convinced of the utter rectitude of their objections to the "offensive" speech; and second, the critics were not content simply to criticize and denounce, they wanted to exact a tangible "punishment," or what they perceived to be such a punishment. The combination of sanctimonious rectitude and a desire to exact punishment for offensive speech makes a dangerous brew, far more dangerous in the Salaita case obviously.
Local news story here (including the "Notice of Claim" letter from Barnett's lawyer, which is quite damning about the University's conduct if accurate). The response of the University official is quite snide, and fails to note that, in fact, Ward Churchill prevailed with a jury in his lawsuit against Colorado.
IHE has the story. Mr. Maher's ability to speak freely, and reach a wide audience, would not in any way be hindered by not being honored as a commencement speaker at Berkeley. One can sympathize, though, with the Chancellor's attempt to put a stop to the endless "Generation Wuss" hair-trigger indignation and offense-taking about everything, without any sense of proportion or priorities. On the other hand, I expect the outcome would have been different had Mr. Maher's rude jokes been about, say, Zionist Jews rather than Muslims.
I'm a longtime reader of your Leiter Reports. I have noticed that of late you have been tracking a trend in our society wherein some hypocritical notion of civility is used as an excuse to suppress speech. I therefore thought you might be interested in this piece of news I happened across today: http://www.ocregister.com/articles/police-637903-meeting-hat.html. In short, a city council meeting was cancelled and attendants (who refused to leave) were threatened with arrest because someone was wearing a hat that read "Fuck the Police" (it was deemed "offensive" and "disrespectful"). The most unsettling thing about this situation is that the Mayor of Santa Ana, the Mayor Pro Tem, and the Chief of Police all seem to have no idea that any constitutional rights were violated here--that is, these people who have the law in their hands have no inkling of even very basic constitutional law. On the other hand, this earlier article on this event (http://www.ocregister.com/articles/police-637732-council-meeting.html) is a little more reassuring, since it shows that at least the people know their rights and are willing to subject themselves to intimidation and threats of arrest in order to stand up for the free speech rights of a complete stranger (and a "disrespectful" one at that). Let's hope they don't sign a kindness pledge.
There is a video of my introducing Salaita at University of Chicago the other night, and on the right-hand side you'll see links to videos of Salaita's talk at Northwestern, which I am told was essentially the same as the talk at U of C (I watched only a bit of it, and that seems right). That talk is in several parts, starting here. There's also a brief news video about the case from what I am told is a pro-Palestinian on-line news service.
(Thanks to John Dworkin and Jonah Rubin for the various links.)
MOVING TO FRONT FROM SEPT. 24--PLEASE CONSIDER DONATING
...with donations to support his legal case. I have donated and would urge others to do so. My understanding is that if legal fees are recouped, donated money will go to the Center for Constitutional Rights, a worthy organization that has been helping Salaita since this started.
This is a more informative piece than I've seen previously, and fits with much that we discussed earlier, including the possibility of defamation claims. One new possible claim is for tortious interference with contract, a claim that might also be brought against those donors who pressured the University to fire Salaita. (Readers my age or older may recall the most famous [or infamous] tortious intereference with contract case in modern times, Penzoil v. Texaco, won by legendary [and legendarily ferocious] Texas plaintiffs' lawyer Joe Jamail. [Just as an amusing sidenote, this video of Jamail taking a deposition often makes the rounds--Jamail is off camera on the right, you can only occasionally see his hands.)
I'm just returned from that event, and it appears they were taping it, so if it's on-line subsequently I will post a link. Prof. Salaita was, in person, exactly as he seemed at his Urbana-Champaign press conference: friendly, warm, and admirably composed and cheerful considering the terrible ordeal of persecution he has been through. The real person is a powerful counterweight to the campaign of demonization to which he has been subjected. It clearly helps that he has a strong sense of moral purpose. My introductory remarks to the event, for anyone who is interested, are below the fold (nothing surprising for those who have followed my Huffington Post columns):
Continental Philosophy Farhang Erfani, a philosopher at American University, provides a useful set of links to news, events, interviews, reviews, videos, etc. related to "Continental philosophy" (broadly construed)