Former tenured Virginia Tech professor, Steven Salaita, was recently let go from his new job at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Salaita is now fighting the university on their decision to terminate his employment. The professor’s efforts are expected to be futile, since it would be difficult for him to defend himself, considering the severity of the crime that warranted his removal from the university: Steven Salaita was found guilty of tweeting.
For those of you unfamiliar with the terminology, a tweet no longer refers to the sweet sound of a canary. In 2014 the word has grown to mean something far more dastardly; a tweet is a 140-character comment anyone can post on the social media site, Twitter.
From his personal twitter account, Salaita made several comments regarding the controversial issue of the Israeli government’s involvement in Gaza. An anonymous source from within the university’s Board of Trustees gives The Black Sheep some insight as to why these tweets prompted the firing of the tenured professor.
“Salaita’s statements expressed through a private outlet unrelated to the university were appalling,” the source explains. “Not because they were right or wrong, but because they were such controversial opinions. A college is no place for freethinkers and their personal views. This is a place of learning – not thinking.”
The Board of Trustees member then asserted, “Having a professor who thinks for himself is dangerous. It could encourage the students to start thinking for themselves and we just can’t have that… It could create chaos.”
Despite the university’s efforts to avoid the dangers associated with free thought, students at UIUC have already started showing signs of forming their own opinions. Here are a few recent tweets from UIUC students:
Finally beat 2048. What a day.
— Jesski (@JessKGonz) July 30, 2014
Tim Gunn is my idol
— Katie Schrantz (@KatieSchrantz) September 12, 2014
Some homeless lady asked me for a quarter like this “Hey motherfucker, can you give me a quarter?” And then sassed me when I said no.. ?
— Ems (@EmilySimon10) September 16, 2014
Students are clearly developing and conveying their personal preferences on the internet. “But where does it end?” a UIUC faculty member asked The Black Sheep in an interview. “A love of Netflix today could easily turn into a student uprising tomorrow.
“The Board of Trustees’ decision to fire Steven Salaita was in the university’s best interest,” our source continued. “Tweeting is a threat to our school and it must be stopped.”
It remains to be seen if Salaita will be reinstated as a professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. If he continues to exercise his first amendment rights, however, the former Tech professor may never be hired again.