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What’s next, now that the University of Illinois Board of Trustees has voted down Steven Salaita’s job? September 18, Katherine Franke, a top national scholar of law, religion, and human rights, spoke at a community conversation focused on academic freedom, political dissent, and particular legal issues involved in political action on Israel-Palestine as well as the firing of Salaita from a tenured faculty position.
Franke, the Isidor and Seville Sulzbacher Professor of Law and Director of the Center for Gender and Sexuality Law at Columbia University, is paying her own way to speak at the
Independent Media Center in Urbana. Joining more than 5000 other faculty who are boycotting the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, she announced her decision
to cancel a previously scheduled speaking engagement at UIUC in a September 2 letter to Chancellor Phyllis Wise. (See Letter from Katherine Franke.)
by Ali Abunimah
Finally breaking its silence, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign on Friday claimed that the firing of Steven Salaita was “was not influenced in any way by his positions on the conflict in the Middle East nor his criticism of Israel.”
Rather, it was, in effect, a pre-empetive firing based on the assumption that his tweets would make him a bad teacher.
This transparent use of “civility” as a cover to fire a professor with outspoken views on Israel is almost identical to the pretext that was given by DePaul University in 2007 to deny tenure to Norman Finkelstein.
In that case, DePaul denied Finkelstein tenure on the vague grounds that he lacked “collegiality.”
On Tuesday, Aug. 5, Florida folk and Americana band Passerine lands in Urbana, IL, to perform at the Urbana-Champaign Independent Media Center. Show starts at 7:30pm. Admission is $5-10 sliding scale.
Dozens from Illinois Campaign for Prison Phone Justice, CU Immigration Forum, CU Citizens for Peace and Justice, Citizens with Conviction and other groups working for social justice in Champaign Urbana, gathered for an all-day workshop to learn media production.
In the IMC's newly created computer training classroom, participants used Audacity, free audio production software, to make short audio pieces.
DJ BJ showed people the ropes using the board in the WRFU 104.5 FM studio. Participants tried their hand speaking on air, then walked outside to view the 100 foot radio tower which broadcasted their message to all of Urbana, Champaign, and Savoy - all with 100 watts, or the power of a lightbulb.
As a grassroots movement working to address racial, gender, and economic injustices produced by our local criminal justice system, we have made one of our main efforts in recent years the prevention of new jail construction and the mass-incarceration mindset that goes along with it. Our ongoing effort has had remarkable success, thanks in great part to the tireless work and vision of fellow CUCPJ member James Kilgore.
In February 2014, a local right wing newspaper launched an attack against Dr. Kilgore, reporting as if it was news on his criminal background and political activities in the 1970s and questioning whether the University of Illinois―where he currently teaches―should employ him. Although in March a spokesperson for the University made a statement in support of Dr. Kilgore, in April in a private meeting with the University provost, James was informed without explanation that the University would not approve any future employment contracts with him.
A series of May Day events is taking place May 3 to May 14 celebrating the life of legendary folk singer, banjo player, and political activist Pete Seeger, who passed away in January. After a flyer for the event was circulated, my friend Barbara Kessel emailed me about her recollection of Pete Seeger’s 1958 visit to the University of Illinois when he was banned from performing on campus during the red scare. The incident is a reminder of how widespread the blacklist was, even reaching this Midwestern college town. As the civil rights movement was gaining momentum and “the sixties” were just around the corner, Barbara recalled a “new world” opened up to her that night.
By James Kilgore, Champaign-Urbana Citizens for Peace and Justice
When we began our campaign to stop jail construction in Champaign County in early 2012, I thought we were doomed. The grand plan to spend $20 million on this project seemed like a done deaI. The Sheriff was driving the initiative; the leading lights in the County Board seemed to think jail construction was the only prudent course. Yet, nearly two years later we have a very different scenario. The 2014 budget for Champaign County doesn’t include a single cent for jail construction. In fact, the county has allocated more than $200,000 in new money for social programs aimed at keeping people out of jail. In a county of slightly more than 200,000 residents, this is an important start.
How did this happen? The answer is simple- a campaign of ordinary people, led by a core from the Champaign-Urbana Citizens for Peace and Justice (CUCPJ), turned the situation around. This campaign is proof that action by people at the grassroots level can make a difference.