Guilford College has moved a lecture by Steven Salaita, the controversial scholar whose hiring was blocked by officials of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, but not called off the event. The family of donors who paid for the building where Salaita was scheduled to speak objected to his appearing there. A statement from the college said that, in consultation with faculty members who organized the appearance, a new site was found. The statement said that had a new site not been found, the original location would have been used.
Online, supporters of Salaita are criticizing the change of venue as a violation of academic freedom.
But Hank Reichman, chair of the American Association of University Professors' Committee A on Academic Freedom and Tenure and a professor emeritus of history at California State University at East Bay, said via e-mail that he disagreed. "I think donors have rights, even after they make their donation, and the institution's leaders and its faculty are certainly well advised to try to accommodate donor wishes, but only if they can do so without violating fundamental principles of academic freedom and free expression more generally," he said. "It sounds like, in this instance, they were able to do this."
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