1. On the proper interpretation of the AAUP's statements (following the lead of John K Wilson):
The AAUP’s 1940 “Statement of Principles on Academic Freedom and Tenure” explicitly states that when faculty “speak or write as citizens, they should be free from institutional censorship." The continuation of that sentence in the 1940 Statement ("but their special position in the community imposes special obligations") cannot be used to justify firing (or "un-hiring") a professor but instead expresses moral ideals for professors rather than conditions enabling disciplinary action, especially unilateral administration action without faculty consultation.
Furthermore, the AAUP's 1970 Interpretive Comments declare that the “obligations” section of the 1940 Statement must be interpreted by incorporating the 1964 Statement on Extramural Utterances, which holds that any extramural utterance, to be punishable, “clearly demonstrates the faculty member’s unfitness” for the position and also take into account the professor’s “entire record as a teacher and scholar."
Proper respect for faculty governance entails that it is the faculty who are best positioned to judge a professor's "entire record as a teacher and scholar," not the administration or Board alone.
This is consistent with the AAUP's 29 August 2014 letter, recommending that Salaita be suspended with pay pending formal disciplinary hearings with proper faculty input.
Further, I think the most an administration should be allowed to do, absent formal hearings with faculty input, is produce the common response: "We disagree with the content of Professor X's speech, and remind people that he does not speak for the University." This is codified in the UI Statutes as follows: "If, in the president’s judgment, a faculty member exercises freedom of expression as a citizen and fails to heed the admonitions of Article X, Section 2b, the president may publicly disassociate the Board of Trustees and the University from and express their disapproval of such objectionable expressions."
2. On the matter of Salaita's status at UIUC
It is not the case that Salaita misinterpreted the UIUC's actions; it is rather the case that UIUC acted in numerous concrete ways toward Salaita as an employee, thus forming the basis of the "promissory estoppel" claim many legal experts (e.g., Dorf at Cornell and Leiter at Chicago) find Salaita to have.
Following proper procedures, a written offer of employment was issued on October 3, 2013 to Professor Steven Salaita for an appointment, with tenure, as Associate Professor. This offer followed all the standard procedures of a national search and internal approvals from relevant academic units at UIUC, from department to College Dean, to Provost, and up through the office of the Chancellor in the person of Reginald Alston, Associate Chancellor.
Furthermore, subsequent to Professor Salaita's acceptance of the offer, UIUC scheduled him to teach classes, paid moving expenses, entered him into the payroll system, sent the IT people to inquire as to his computer needs, and invited to the Chancellor's new faculty reception. In addition, these were also actions UIUC took with all the entering members of the new faculty cohort in 2014 and preceding years, all prior to final Board approval, which, by the actions of the University, have to be considered pro forma.
3. On the question of the "civility" standard
The objectionable nature of the introduction of the civility standard is two-fold: a) that it is much weaker than that of "hate speech" and b) that it is given to the administration alone to judge "civility."
With regard to a) I isolated "civility" from the fog of the statements by the Board and by Wise, because it is the dangerous part of what they say. When an administration effects a power grab by lowering the standards enabling their unilateral action, it makes no sense to waste time talking about the standards that are already accepted; the danger lies in the lowering of the standards.
With regard to b), the unilateral nature of the administration's judgment of civility conflicts with faculty governance.
4. On the exploitation of a loophole by the UIUC administration
I propose a thought experiment. Suppose it were the case that the LSU Board made a miscalculation and that there was no quorum at the meeting in which my tenure was approved. Suppose further that my political enemies then presented a case, based on my extramural speech, for my unfitness as a teacher, and then pressured the Board to summarily dismiss me, claiming my tenure rights to be non-existent because of the recently discovered procedural error. Suppose further that the Board bought that argument and dismissed me, without possibility of internal appeal, leaving me only with recourse to the legal system.
I think it fair to say that in such a scenario I would expect support from my colleagues, decrying the crass and petty legalisms of the maneuver of my enemies and the cowardice of the administration, and that my colleagues would demand an internal university procedure with adequate faculty representation as to the question of my fitness to teach. This is, again, the AAUP's 29 August 2014 position: Salaita should be suspended with pay and an internal university procedure be convened.
5. On the larger question of academic freedom
The courts allow universities to offer academic freedom to their employees, over and above our First Amendment rights, as incentives for recruitment and retention. That is to say, universities can, but need not, offer immunity from summary dismissal and other forms of unilaterally imposed economic sanction to their employees for their extramural speech, save in the case of an properly run disciplinary procedure with adequate faculty representation.
Thus defending academic freedom falls to the faculty; it is our obligation, should we wish to maintain the consensus among administrators that academic freedom is indeed a valued benefit to us – and to the society at large -- to fight any and all violations of it, no matter the content of the speech. And I think this holds especially for those cases in which administrations seek, by means of petty legalistic loopholes, to cut faculty out of our rightful place as a necessary component in any procedure aimed at judging the fitness of a colleague on the basis of that colleague's "entire record as a teacher and scholar."