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Six Questions on the Salaita Case

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Some ways in which care for justice might lead one to oppose Illinois' decision to rescind a job offer to Steven Salaita

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Six Questions on the Salaita Case

  1. 1. Six Questions on the Salaita Case Some ways in which care for justice might lead one to oppose the decision to rescind a job offer Associate Professor Kevin Hamilton University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign kham@illinois.edu
  2. 2. How could anyone see the rescinding of Salaita’s offer as racist? It dismisses the judgment of a department dedicated, against great opposition given the mascot debates, to understanding the ongoing story underlying almost all racism - the story of settlement, conquest, and genocide.
  3. 3. But wouldn't inviting Salaita here only answer hate with hate? To assess the potential impact of Salaita's tweets on this community without the leadership of the department that invited him here is to dismiss that department's rightful authority on both their academic field, and on hate.
  4. 4. But don't the Chancellor and the Board have ultimate authority to look after the good of the campus? The Statutes grant them the power, but not the authority to do so. Authority isn't granted by statutes - it's granted through experience and demonstration of expertise. In this case, the hiring department brings authority on both the discipline and on hate.
  5. 5. So the hiring Department should have the last word? Our Statutes don't grant them the last word. But our broader traditions - of academic freedom, and of justice - grant them authority. That authority deserves to be given first consideration in any exercise of power. Instead the Board, the Chancellor and others have wrongly claimed greater authority on matters of hate and of American Indian Studies.
  6. 6. How could Salaita have led a fair classroom? Many have spoken to this elsewhere, but few to none have asked the department who hired him.
  7. 7. Where do we go from here? When a group has been wronged as has the American Indian Studies Program, there needs to be some acknowledgment of wrongs, and some moves toward restoration. For some ideas on this, see www.restorativejustice.org

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