Academic Freedom and Extramural Utterances: The Leo Koch and Steven Salaita Cases at the University of Illinois

By John Wilson

Abstract:

A century ago, the AAUP declared that extramural utterances were an essential part of academic freedom. The Leo Koch case at the University of Illinois in 1960 sparked a sharp debate within the AAUP about whether extramural utterances had to meet professional standards. The AAUP’s decision to eliminate such standards transformed the meaning of academic freedom and led to the University of Illinois adopting statutes that clearly protect extramural utterances. The dismissal of Steven Salaita for his tweets is a classic example of extramural utterances, and both University of Illinois Statutes and AAUP standards clearly prohibit any punishment. The firing of Salaita, and the willingness of so many to defend it, shows how extramural utterances remain the most vulnerable (and often misunderstood) aspect of academic freedom.

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