The Collision Between Academic Freedom and Freedom of Contract: the Salaita Case

George Leef

In this week's Pope Center Clarion Call, I give me views on the contretemps involving the University of Illinois and its non-hiring or unhiring of Professor Steven Salaita due to his intemperate rants about Israel.

Years ago, Professor William Van Alstyne (from whom I learned Constitutional Law at Duke) wrote that "the core value of academic freedom as a vital safeguard for controversial research and teaching risks dilution by being overextended to situations where it does not really belong." I think that is the case here. Educational institutions can and should distinguish between scholarship and off-topic tirades. The latter ought to be valid grounds for declining to hire a candidate or sanctions against someone already hired. The key, I submit, is intelligent contracting.

Image: Screenshot from Youtube

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