The academic institution which might have been his next employer - University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana - is tight-lipped. So, is Steven Salaita, a former professor of indigenous studies at Virginia Tech. That's a shift in MO for a man who habitually tweeted provocative anti-Israel commentary.
Those tweets might be the core reason why he was not being approved by IL's chancellor and vice president of academic affairs for the tenured position. Essentially, he seemed to assume the approval was a rubber-stamp process and resigned his previous job. Since the two key parties aren't talking, maybe the reasons for the rejection will never be made public.
That makes the issues embedded in this development all the more buzz-worthy. They range from academic freedom of expression to the judgment of a possible employeee whose words could incite violence. In The Wall Street Journal, Douglas Belkin presents the story as if the tweets were the cause for the lack of an offer.
The headline reads "Tweets on Israel Cost Professor a New Job"
The subhead reads "Inflammatory Comments Prompt University of Illinois to Rescind Offer"
Here is that article (sub. req.)
But was the tipping point really a freedom of speech matter? Or was it more about character, leadership, and emotional maturity?
The public will know more if Salaita files a lawsuit or some oversight group demands an investigation of the matter.
Meanwhile, some who have gotten burned by speaking candidly might just assess Salaita's tweets as reckless and write him off as not worth a huge debate in academia and among First Amendment activists.