Professor Steven Salaita on October 8, 2014 spoke at Columbia College Chicago that I previously commented on. John Dworkin asked the panelists, Steven Salaita, Iymen Chehade and myself whether we would consent to being taped and YouTubed: a neologism? Mr. Dworkin recently released on his YouTube channel videos of the three panelists. Here are parts one and two of Professor Salaita’s remarks at the Ferguson Hall event in Chicago’s Loop. It takes courage and commitment for a scholar, subjected to the administrative abuse of a viewpoint-cleansing summary dismissal, to speak so forthrightly and trenchantly on this topic. I also found his capacity to situate his own travails within the broader context of free speech, academic freedom and shared governance to be quite remarkable.
There is little doubt that students deserve an instructor such as this, and that the American Indian Studies program at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign exercised considerable wisdom in recommending Professor Salaita for a tenured appointment at the rank of associate professor. On October 3, 2013, Brian Ross, the interim dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at the UIUC, agreed and offered Dr. Salaita the appointment which was accepted with a signed, returned contract to the university. While extramural utterances rarely if ever shed light on one’s classroom demeanor much less “fitness” as an instructor, they certainly reveal in this instance a quality of speech and articulation that many observers would construe as achieving an enviable academic and professional quality: