Dear Chancellor Wise:
The rescission of the UI offer to Steven Salaita will do considerable harm to your university’s reputation. It harms Professor Salaita and it does serious harm to first amendment rights and to all sense of proper procedure and academic freedom. It upsets proper procedure because it upsets normal practice and expectations. In my long career, I cannot recall a similar rescission. It offends academic freedom because it intimidates academics who might well learn from your actions to censor their own speech in academic, professional, and social venues. This last danger is a threat to free societies and to the ideal of the American universities. Consider as well the effect on students who fear that their professors might not speak honestly to them in fear themselves for their own careers and their families’ security. I would not want to sit in a classroom where I doubted the freedom of my teachers to speak the truth. Consider too that the truth is often rowdy and it very often offends the most powerful, which is the reason universities exist to protect the truth and the right to discover and express it.
For all of these and many other reasons, I urge you to reverse your rescission and exemplify the best tradition of America and its land grant universities.
Paul A. Bové