We, the undersigned scientists and engineers, will not visit the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign campus until the Steven Salaita case is equitably resolved.
You may sign the pledge by entering a comment below, giving your name, discipline, and institutional affiliation, which is understood to be for identification purposes only and does not imply that you act on behalf of your institution. Comments are moderated and may take a few hours to appear. Please spread the word among your friends and ask them to sign as well. If you tweet the URL you may wish to use the following hashtags: #boycottUIUC and #Salaita.
The following is an open letter from Alan Sokal of the NYU Department of Physics.
My friend Paul Boghossian (NYU Philosophy) has drawn my attention to a shocking case involving academic freedom at the University of Illinois, which has drawn a protest from over 3000 American and international scholars.
Professor Steven Salaita resigned his tenured position at Virginia Tech on the basis of a tenured offer from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in October 2013. (link) While the offer was awaiting routine approval by the Board of Trustees, UIUC Chancellor Phyllis Wise summarily revoked the offer on August 1, 2014, apparently on the basis of some of Professor Salaita's Twitter comments concerning Israeli actions in Gaza; some commentators (not all) consider the tweets to be intemperate.
More disturbingly yet, the Chancellor attempted to justify her position by saying that
What we cannot and will not tolerate at the University of Illinois are personal and disrespectful words or actions that demean and abuse either viewpoints themselves or those who express them. (link)
Putting aside the bizarre notion that an idea can feel "demeaned" or "abused", the Chancellor's position implies that the University of Illinois will not tolerate biologists or physicists who are "disrespectful" (in her sole judgment) of creationists or even of creationism.
Moreover, and perhaps more disturbingly, the University of Illinois Board of Trustees officially endorsed the Chancellor's decision and reasoning, using the same specious "civility" standard (link).
In response to the Chancellor's and Trustees' intransigence, over 3000 scholars worldwide (link) have publicly declared that they will boycott the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign until this decision is reversed.
If you wish to join them, you may sign this pledge by commenting to that effect below, giving your name, discipline, and instutional affiliation.
-- Alan Sokal
P.S. After an FOIA demand, Inside Higher Education published a story on August 25, 2014 revealing that Chancellor Wise had, prior to her August 1 decision, received e-mails on the issue not only from students, parents and donors, but also from the fund-raising arm of UIUC. (link)
For some comments prompted by the Salaita case but also touching on the larger issue of how administrations are nowadays riding roughshod over faculty prerogatives, see this piece by Lennard Davis of the University of Illinois at Chicago (link).
**Please note that institutional affiliations of the signatories are for identification purposes only and do not imply that the signatories are speaking on behalf of the institution.**