Statement regarding the University of Illinois and Steven Salaita

During MAASA’s spring 2015 board meeting, the board approved the following statement regarding the University of Illinois and Steven Salaita:

The Mid-America American Studies Association (MAASA) is an organization of students, teachers, and scholars in Arkansas, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, and Wisconsin. A regional affiliate of the American Studies Association, MAASA is committed to the regional, national, and transnational study of American cultures and to the promotion of scholarship through the publication of our international journal, American Studies.

The MAASA Executive Board calls upon the administration of the University of Illinois, including Chancellor Phyllis Wise, President Robert Easter, and the Board of Trustees to reconsider their decision to rescind the offer of a tenured faculty position in American Indian Studies to Steven Salaita. Due to his membership in the American Studies Association, Professor Salaita would have become a MAASA member by virtue of his transition to Illinois. We regret that this decision has precluded his affiliation with and contributions to our region.

As a documented reaction to personal political speech and donor pressure, the decision to rescind Professor Salaita’s offer of employment constitutes a violation of academic freedom and freedom of speech. In order to rebuild the damage this decision has done to the reputation of the University of Illinois and to the capacity of its faculty to engage in effective teaching, research, and outreach, we urge the University’s administration to demonstrate proper regard for faculty governance, to respect the autonomy and integrity of the UIUC American Indian Studies Program, and to restore Professor Salaita’s appointment as a member of the faculty.