University condemned for Al-Arian dismissal

The American Association of University Professors (AAUP) condemned the University of South Florida (USF) on Saturday, accusing it of dismissing a computer science professor for political reasons.

    Al-Arian's suspension was for
    political reasons, says AAUP

    Delegates to the eighty-ninth annual meeting of AAUP said in a statement that USF has made “grave departures from Association-supported standards” which resulted in “serious professional injury” to Professor Sami al-Arian.

     

    Al-Arian was arrested last February after US justice officials described him as the North American leader of the Palestinian resistance group, Islamic Jihad.

     

    AAUP said the university president’s decision to suspend al-Arian and ban him from entering the campus for eighteen months came “without an opportunity for a hearing before faculty peers”.

     

    Such a decision was “based on political issues entirely apart from any legitimate academic concerns”, the AAUP statement said. 

     

    Al-Arian, a Kuwaiti-born Palestinian, was suspended from the university after the 11 September attacks in 2001, following his participation on a television programme on Fox TV.

     

    The show’s host attacked him, saying al-Arian was a terrorist.

     

    University officials initially said the suspension was for al-Arian’s safety.

     

    Then, university President Judy Genshaft announced on 19 December 2001 al-Arian’s imminent termination, according to the United Faculty of Florida (UFF).

     

    UFF, an organisation for higher education faculty and professionals in Florida, defended the due process rights, academic freedom and tenure rights of al-Arian.

     

    Six days after the professor was indicted by a federal grand jury for violations of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organisations (RICO) Act, Genshaft sent al-Arian the third letter of termination on 26 February, 2003.

     

    AAUP said it found al-Arian’s dismissal, within days after his indictment and arrest, as a violation to the “cardinal American principle of ‘innocent until proven guilty'”.

     

    The AAUP censures administrations of educational institutions that have failed to adhere with the generally recognised principles of academic freedom and tenure.

     

    These principles have been endorsed by more than 180 professional and educational organisations, according to the AAUP statement.  

     

    There are now 49 institutions on the list of censured administrations.


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