New Revelations in the Salaita Affair; Two New Statements of Refusal

The Chicago Tribune filed a public records request with the University of Illinois and has obtained the following revelations:

First, Salaita’s offer letter was dated October 3, 2013; he signed it six days later, on October 9.

Second, the offer letter, which was signed by the Interim Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, states:

The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign offers a wonderfully supportive community, and it has always taken a high interest in its newcomers. I feel sure that your career can flourish here, and I hope earnestly that you will accept our invitation.

Third, the job was originally slated to begin in January 2014, but the start date was postponed to August so that Salaita could finish spring semester at Virginia Tech.

In other news, we have a new statement of refusal circulating among scholars in women’s studies, gender studies, and feminist studies. It reads:

Dear Chancellor Wise:

As members of Women’s Studies/Women’s and Gender Studies/Feminist Studies departments and programs from around the world we are deeply concerned by the recent decision to prevent Steven Salaita from assuming his appointment to the Department of American Indian Studies at the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign. We believe that the university’s revocation of an already accepted offer due to the tone and content of political statements on social media about recent events in Gaza is a violation of academic freedom and sets a very negative precedent for intellectual diversity in academia. Until such time as the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign decides to allow Dr. Salaita to take the position he was offered and accepted we refuse to participate in any events on its campus including academic conferences. Listed institutions are for identification purposes. The individual scholars signing this petition represent only their own personal views and not those of their employers.

If you are a professor or scholar of women’s studies, gender studies, or feminist studies, and would like to sign the statement, please email Professor Barbara Winslow at

Finally, there is another statement of refusal being circulated. It’s not a discipline-specific statement, so any academic can sign it. The critical part of it reads:

We, the undersigned faculty and staff, will not give guest lectures or provide public speeches at The University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. We encourage all signatories of this statement to use their own judgment as to what other forms of protest and boycott they wish to employ on a case-by-case basis. We ask that faculty and administrators honor the boycott until Professor Steven Salaita is made a formal and binding offer of employment with tenure, exactly the same offer that has been revoked. We furthermore demand that the University vow that no retaliation or other negative actions, explicit or implicit, direct or indirect, be visited upon Professor Salaita or any of his supporters amongst the faculty or student body at UIUC.

Its many signatories include Eddie Glaude, Cristina Beltran, Timothy Brennan, Elliott Colla, Matthew Frye Jacobson, Robin Kelley, Eric Lott, Nikhil Singh, Gayatri Spivak, and more.

If you wish to sign the statement, you can do so here, or email





  1. Robin Messing August 13, 2014 at 9:09 pm | #

    If this isn’t a contract, then it looks like it comes damn close to being a contract. I’m not a lawyer, so I’m not sure if this applies, but if I were Salaita I would be consulting a lawyer about the relevance of the doctrine of Promissory Estoppel.

    “In the law of contracts, the doctrine that provides that if a party changes his or her position substantially either by acting or forbearing from acting in reliance upon a gratuitous promise, then that party can enforce the promise although the essential elements of a contract are not present.

    Certain elements must be established to invoke promissory estoppel. A promisor—one who makes a promise—makes a gratuitous promise that he should reasonably have expected to induce action or forbearance of a definite and substantial character on the part of the promisee—one to whom a promise has been made. The promisee justifiably relies on the promise. A substantial detriment—that is, an economic loss—ensues to the promisee from action or forbearance. Injustice can be avoided only by enforcing the promise.

    A majority of courts apply the doctrine to any situation in which all of these elements are present. A minority, however, still restrict its applicability to one or more specific situations from which the doctrine emanated, such aswhen a donor promises to transfer real property as a gift and the donee spends money on the property in reliance on the promise.

    With respect to the measure of recovery, it would be unfair to award the plaintiff the benefit of the bargain, as in the case of an express contract, since there is no bargain. In a majority of cases, however, injustice is avoided by awarding the plaintiff an amount consistent with the value of the promise. Other cases avoid injustice by awarding the plaintiff only an amount necessary to compensate her for the economic detriment actually suffered.”

    See also

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