Professor Salaita's Intramural Speech

By Don Eron


The Salaita controversy has exposed many fault lines within the academic profession. While some of the more vehement commentary appears inextricable from the speaker’s attitude toward Zionism, much of the Salaita discourse seems premised on misunderstandings of concepts that are fundamental to the professoriate. Among these are the distinction between extramural and intramural utterance and the significance of the distinction as it relates to the limitations of academic freedom. Drawing on numerous AAUP documents, I argue that Professor Salaita’s tweets, because they directly invoke his area of academic authority, should be considered intramural utterance. A common view, that Salaita’s tweets are irrelevant to his professional fitness because he was speaking as a citizen and did not publish his opinions in a professional format, is antiquated in view of the efficiency, power, and reach of social media. Any disciplinary evaluation of Salaita’s speech should apply the stricter standards of intramural utterance.

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