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Salaita Tells Supporters He Is Committed to Teaching at U. of Illinois

Steven G. Salaita told a crowd of about 200 supporters on Tuesday afternoon that he remains committed to teaching at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, according to various media reports.

A lawyer representing Mr. Salaita said the professor was prepared to pursue legal action if he was not hired, according to a live blog from The News-Gazette. Mr. Salaita was hired last year to teach in the university’s program in American Indian studies, but the offer was rescinded after he drew controversy for tweets criticizing Israel.

“I am here to reaffirm my commitment to teaching and to a position with the American Indian studies program at UIUC,” Mr. Salaita told the crowd, according to remarks posted online.

Supporters gathered on a rainy afternoon to rally in support of Mr. Salaita, who spoke in the University YMCA. Julie Wurth, a reporter for The News-Gazette, tweeted a photo from the rally before the speech:

According to reports, the crowd got larger as it moved indoors. Urbana Public Television posted a video of the scene on YouTube:

Mr. Salaita took the podium to cheers, reported Hannah Meisel, a reporter for Illinois Public Media:

Mr. Salaita told the crowd that Chancellor Phyllis M. Wise’s decision not to submit his appointment to the Board of Trustees had taken a toll on him and his family. “As a result, my family has no income, no health insurance, and no home of our own,” he said. “Our young son has been left without a preschool. I have lost the great achievement of a scholarly career—lifetime tenure, with its promised protections of academic freedom.”

He went on to call the intense controversy surrounding his situation a “teaching moment.”

The university’s Board of Trustees is slated to meet on Thursday. Ms. Wise told the Chicago Tribune that there is “no possibility” Mr. Salaita will teach at the university.

Read Mr. Salaita’s full remarks.

For more, see this Chronicle article.

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