Salaita Case Going to Court Over Freedom of Information Act

As reported, the Center for Constitutional Rights is holding a press call today to reveal a “new development.” While I cannot confirm the specifics of this development in the Steven Salaita case, the Daily Illini has reported that on February 13, 2015, there will be a court hearing in the Champaign County Circuit Court concerning alleged University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign failure to adhere to requests under the Illinois Freedom of Information Act. Steven Salaita will appear at the hearing.

In a recent interview in the News-Gazette, Chancellor Phyllis M. Wise dodged a question, in my opinion, concerning a missing e-mail from a donor that was purported to demonstrate significant influence on the decision to revoke a contract offer to Professor Salaita.

The Daily Illini reports this hearing does not directly concern Dr. Salaita’s job status, but is civil litigation specifically targeted to gain access to vital documents relevant to the summary dismissal and suspension of a tenured associate professor in the American Indian Studies Program.

The University of Illinois could be liable up to a maximum of $5000 in damages for each violation under the Illinois Freedom of Information Act.

2 thoughts on “Salaita Case Going to Court Over Freedom of Information Act

  1. Whatever one thinks of Steven Salaita’s political views, he has been penalized for being willing to state them very honestly and very publicly.

    The new champions of “civility,” however, have obstructed attempts even to identify who was so offended by Steven Salaita’s political views that they pressed to have his appointment rescinded.

    So, in effect, the University of Illinois’ administration and Board of Trustees are asserting that the political views of a faculty member are no longer constitutionally protected, but the political views of influential donors should be protected at all costs from any outside scrutiny whatsoever.

    It is hard to imagine a more telling illustration of what “civility” means in actual practice: faculty who say anything that anyone with influence might find controversial risk jeopardizing their careers, but influential donors can wreck those careers with impunity–without even having to defend or even acknowledge their own political views, never mind their actions, in any public way.

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