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The University is circulating this page to faculty. It justifies the positions that the University is taking in contract negotiations with the GEO (which represents the University’s teaching assistants and graduate assistants). The information given on that page, however, is incredibly misleading. I’d like to presently (and with much credit to Grace Hébert, who called out this site and some of its flaws in her Facebook post) address some of these problems here:

1.) The average compensation that they list is not what many individuals are receiving. For instance, my appointment gives me the absolute minimum. That’s $16,360.83 a year before taxes for twenty hours a week. This is several thousand dollars less than the living wage cited by the University in other materials.
2.) They state that we earn the equivalent of $20.97 an hour, and remind us that a living wage is $10.42 an hour. This comparison is neither fair nor apt. The living wage presumes a 40 hour work week. The average appointment is for 50% of that, or 20 hours. The maximum appointment that a graduate student is allowed is 67%, or around 27 hours. Moreover, the living wage presumes that you are employed for the entire year. Most teaching appointments only last for nine months. Many of us are not paid at all during the months of June, July, and August.
Making up these disparities is difficult-to-impossible. Graduate students are expected to conduct research, attend classes, and/or write in addition to the duties related to their appointment, most of which are unrelated to their academic progress. Carrying a second job in addition to both an active appointment and a vital academic career is next-to-impossible. Summer labor is also difficult to find; while some of us are able to scrape together minimal summer funding—or are lucky enough to land appointments that extend over the summer—the vast majority of us must look for work or save during the rest of the year. Finding such work is difficult—there is high demand in Chambana for relatively few seasonal jobs.
The situation for international students is even more dire. Most international students cannot legally work for anyone other than the university while they are in the US, meaning that University funding is the only source of income available to them while they are earning their degrees. Even if they want to look for off-campus work, their visas won’t allow it. They are entirely dependent upon the University for funding.
3.) They include tuition waivers as part of our compensation package. Tuition waivers cannot be spent. I cannot use my tuition waiver for rent. I cannot use my tuition waiver to buy groceries. It is a benefit, but it is not a benefit that meaningfully affects my day-to-day needs. It should be considered separately from the total cost of living.
4.) They imply that their offer on healthcare is an increase relative to their current coverage. It is not. The University wants to change from covering 80% of our premium to covering 80% of our premium or $500, *whichever is less.* Essentially, they want to cap the amount of our insurance that they pay. This is not a generous offer; this is a desire to control their costs. They also fail to mention that the GEO has asked for language guaranteeing the same coverages found in the ACA guidelines. Much of this coverage was not guaranteed prior to the ACA (for instance, we used to have a pre-existing conditions exclusion). We do not want to lose this coverage if the ACA is repealed.
5.) They completely sidestep the issue of summer health insurance. The University currently does not pay for either access to McKinley or health insurance over the summer. This is approximately $175 for McKinley, and approximately $370 for insurance coverage (amount as of Summer 2016). This amount must be paid in May, immediately prior to three months of no wages.
6.) They point out that they cover “72% of all fees.” This (on top of the uncovered amount for insurance, which ends up being a little over $100) means that I personally started this semester owing about $500. That’s more than 1/3 of my monthly take-home pay. Fees alone reduce my effective compensation to around $15,300 a year.
All of this isn’t just inaccurate; it’s insulting. It’s being disseminated to the faculty and to the department heads that control our academic fate. It’s attempting to make us look like petulant children who are challenging an already generous agreement. We aren’t. We are labor. We teach your students, we run your libraries, we help publish your journals. We facilitate research. We are as much the university as the administrator with whom our union is negotiating. And all we want is to be able to live, not comfortably, but viably.

I grew up in a family nearly without religion. It existed only on the periphery—in the wall hangings at my grandparents’ houses, the crucifix eternally dangling from my mom’s neck, the quick prayer said inconsistently and by rote at my grandparents’ before dinner. I can still say it now without any real thought:

“Bless us, oh Lord, and these Thy gifts that we are about to receive from Thy bounty, through Christ our Lord…”

…bracketed, of course, by the Sign of the Cross. All made without context, as meaningless a ritual for me as setting the table or waiting to be excused. Also notably absent from that prayer was the word “God.” It wasn’t a word that I heard at home (that “God” and “Lord” are essentially interchangeable was lost upon my young self).

This is how I found myself in the car during one morning commute, four or five years old and strapped into the passenger’s seat, turning to my mom and asking, “Mommy? What is God?”

I don’t remember this happening, but my mom does. For her, the question elicited a moment of panic. Sure, there were plenty of theological constructs she could have used, plenty of pieces of doctrine she could have rattled off. She could have personified him as a cosmic Elf on a Shelf, eternally watching. She could have characterized him as family—a Father to all. Instead she answered, white-knuckling a commute that had grown unexpectedly fraught:

“God is the little voice inside you that tells you what’s right and what’s wrong.”

And then she held her breath, hoping beyond hope that I’d accept that explanation. There were a few moments, and then, after having apparently given the matter some thought, I said, “Oh. Okay.”

She let out a sigh of relief. The commute continued.

Religion then merely danced around my periphery for the next half-dozen or so years. I noticed that, during the before-dinner prayer, my grandma and grandpa each made the Sign of the Cross differently from the other (a difference that did not help solidify my already-shaky concept of “right” and “left”). I remember visiting my grandpa’s sister in South Dakota when I was seven, and being quietly outraged that I wasn’t allowed to go up with everyone else for a snack. In trying to negotiate my outrage, my grandma tried to negotiate my outrage, she explained that she also wasn’t allowed to go up for a snack, either.

Astute readers—or those who share my particular cultural background—might have already guessed the difference. My grandpa and my mom’s family were Catholic (the giveaway, of course, being the exact wording of the prayer above). My grandma and her family were Greek Orthodox (the giveaway being the difference in the Sign of the Cross). I didn’t get it. My mom said that we were, technically, Catholic. My best friend then, a few months later, made a different distinction: that she was Christian, but since my family was Catholic, they weren’t Christian.

My mom said that she was wrong, and that she was being a jerk. I kind of agreed.

After my grandparents on my father’s side died, I began to be a little more interested in religion. I was about thirteen, and I felt like there had to be something. Or, rather, like my heart would break if there weren’t something. Since my only real conception of religion was Christianity, and my family was mostly nominally Catholic, I figured Catholicism—or, at least, some form of formalized Christianity—was the way to go.

I went to classes. I took Confirmation classes with people my own age. I went to other classes held at night. I liked some of the stories—I’d read the Bible cover to cover a few years prior, so I knew them pretty well; I thought they were great stories—but I struggled with the theology. I think I’d internalized what my mom had said ages ago—that God was the little voice inside me that told me what was right and what was wrong. This didn’t end up conflicting much with my CCD classes—they mostly steered away from concepts like sexuality and more towards concepts of being a generally decent human being—but it did present one colossal problem:

I couldn’t abide the concept of Hell.

Hell was so cosmically unfair to me. I could think of no mistake so grievous, no sin so unforgiveable, as to be worthy of eternal torment. I especially couldn’t wrap my mind around the concept of something as innocent as disbelief as being punished with pain and suffering. If this was the God of others’ conception, and he existed, then not only could I not follow him, but I was bound to actively resist him. Injustice is injustice, no matter how great the perpetrator, and no matter how hopeless the cause.

However, the concept of God as horrible dictator was (fortunately!) outweighed by the other to-me obvious conclusion: that this conception of God was inaccurate. And, because Christianity was, at least in its then-visible-to-me face, extremely Hell-focused, I determined that this was in fact the case. If the voice inside me and the voice at the pulpit disagreed vehemently, then I would go with the voice inside me.

The next dozen or so years were relatively apathetic. I moved more towards Neopaganism, though this was less out of actual belief and more out of a desire to find meaning in the concrete. Seasons are concrete and metaphorical and beautiful, so that worked. I viewed magic not as magic, but rather as a ritual of personal significance undergone merely to relax or focus one’s self. Lighting candles, setting out stones, visualizing one’s energy—all of that just was a way to find one’s own center, to find the quiet and the strength inside one’s self to better one’s own life—like meditation with props. But even that didn’t really fit, in no small part because it seemed most social pagans felt magic was more practical and real, and I felt that was absolutely ridiculous.

That brings us to here, really, and now. I’m not really anything. I understand things more now. I understand that the concept of salvation can be taken as metaphorical, and that the hell it snatches you from can be a hell of one’s own making. That the seasons can inspire awe in the natural without the supernatural. That things have the meaning that we ascribe to them, and that I am ill-equipped to judge the meanings of others’ personal faith. And what I have or haven’t found in my own personal theology or eschatology (or lack thereof) is, for the purposes of this conversation, irrelevant.

It still sticks with me, what my mother said and I forgot—that what matters is the voice inside us telling us what’s right and what’s wrong. That, more than anything, has guided me; it’s not a divine mandate, but rather my own morality. I try with everything I do to do what’s right. To help people when I can. To be compassionate. To not hurt. An’ ye harm none. Do unto others.

This hasn’t been easy. I’m anxious. I’m terrified of people. Confrontation is nearly anathema. And yet I find myself in confrontation at times—when I think that I’m right, when I think that other people will be hurt. I’m not good at—it leads to things like being berated well past the point of tears, or unwanted attention—but I try to do it. Maybe this is pride. Maybe this is something else. But my own voice—my own morality—moves me.

That voice is what I feel is missing in Trump. And the absence of such a voice is why I’ve felt as though I have to stand firmly against him, and—more importantly—why I have to challenge those who do.

I have struggled with this, because I love. I love people who voted for Trump. I can’t stop loving. I love people who have long since hated me. I can’t help it. If you have crossed my path, and I have cared for you before, then I care for you now, no matter how much I claim that I don’t. So when I challenge the votes and voices of those who voted for Trump, I feel the hurt that I cause. It wounds me.

I’ve tried these last few weeks to be less confrontational. I can’t keep it up. I can’t bite through my tongue. I can’t live with myself if I do. Faith and politics are the two things you’re not supposed to talk about at the dinner table. I am doing both.

Those of my friends and family who have voted for Trump—I deeply and sincerely implore you to look into your hearts, and then look into Trump. This is not a man of compassion. This is not a man who strives to help the hurt, to salve the wounded, to improve the world where he can. This is a man who lives for business. This is a man who measures success by his own benefit. This is a man who sees nothing wrong with cheating to get what he wants. He refuses to pay his own contractors while making his wealth from their contributions. He and his campaign staff demonize entire groups of people. He is loyal to nothing and no one. All you can hope is that what benefits you also benefits him. And even if it does—or you think it will—I ask you, please, to listen to me.

I believe that, at minimum, the next four years are going to hurt a lot of people. I think they are going to hurt those who are the most vulnerable, those who have already suffered or who are suffering, those who are sick or shot or hated or hungry or poor. Trump’s appointees have nigh-uniformly been of people who will either undermine the departments that they end, or will enable the expanded indifference to and suppression of the rights of individuals. None of them have given any indication that they care for anything beyond the dissolution of the parts of the federal government that attempt to either help individuals or safeguard the planet on which we live. Your individual gain is not worth the damage, both to others and to our world.

It. Is. Not. Worth. It.

If you can read this, then you are someone that I care about, that I love. If you voted for Trump, I hope for better from you. Please. Resist everything that’s coming. Look at him and tell me whether you see anything more than a narcissistic bully who has managed to con the world into the service of his own ego, and the governmental process into lining the pockets of the wealthy. Look into your hearts and find the compassion and wisdom that I know you possess, and promise me—or yourself—that you will shelter the vulnerable, that you will care for the sick, that you will provide for the poor when the time comes. And tell me—please, tell me, promise me, promise yourself—that you will stand against an overwhelming tide in defense of those people if and when it becomes necessary.

Because I haven’t these last weeks. I’ve been silent, and that’s not okay. My inner voice tells me it’s not okay. I haven’t been sleeping well, have been beyond the point of anxiety, and haven’t been able to functionally live with myself.

Sometimes, you have to shout. Have to be berated beyond the point of tears. Have to stand against injustice, no matter how great the perpetrator or hopeless the cause.

Please. Promise me.

They called me last week, one of many calls from one of many tests, one of many notifications that are vague enough to be terrifying. “Please call me back about your x-rays.”

I do. No sign of degenerative arthritis in any of my joints. Good.

“When did you break your left ankle?”

I answer that I’ve never broken my ankle. They’re quite sure that I have, an old break. They also say that I have soft tissue swelling around the joint. I thank them and we hang up.

Two hours later, my curiosity gets the better of me. Sitting in a borrowed cubicle in the ICR office, I call them back, ask for details in hushed tones. They throw multi-syllabic terms past me so fast that I can’t keep up typing them, and they get frustrated when I ask them to repeat. I finally focus on one term: “avulsion fracture.”  The phrase is short enough that both I and my fingers can keep up.

Again, I thank them. I hang up. Googling the phrase brings me nothing specific enough to be useful.  The fracture could have been mistaken for a sprain. My ankles are weak as kittens; I’ve sprained them enough times that I’ve lost count. The fracture could be treated with compression and rest; I’ve always wrapped my own sprains, or let my mom wrap them. The fracture could be on any number of bones, none of which sound familiar enough to be what I heard on the phone.

I call again to ask if they can read it again. They tell me no, but I can get a copy of the results. If I wait a week, then pick it up in medical records. I thank them. I hang up.

I Google you every so often. Maybe a few times a year now, but it used to be more frequently. I type your first and last name in quotes, type the name of our hometown, hit enter. And there you aren’t.

I only find your ghost. The address you had on Ann St. Your old phone number. The memorial masses your mother requests twice a year—once around your birthday, once around your deathday.

I don’t know what I expect. I’d like to think I’d find you somewhere—some picture on LinkedIn, some tag on Facebook, some blog post where you injudiciously use your real name, and I learn the truth. That you’ve run away and are hiding across the country or on the other side of the world. That someone finding you hanging in a storage unit was all some misunderstanding.

That it wasn’t my fault.

But you can’t even give me that hope, because you had the audacity to look exactly like yourself in that casket, when I tucked a pack of Big Red between your suit sleeve and the satin lining and said nothing. You’ve left no question about where you are—in the ground, eleven years past, nothing but bone now.

I place your middle initial between your names. Hit enter.

I don’t know what I expect.

They gave me the x-rays on a CD the day that they took them. They all looked fine to me—but, then, I don’t know what they’re supposed to look like. I put the CD back in the envelope so that I can give it to my rheumatologist, but only after I put the files on Dropbox.

I can see it now, my ankle in three positions, rendered on some shitty proprietary software that won’t even open on a MacBook. AP, OBL, LAT. I can figure out that OBL and LAT are oblique and lateral. It takes a web search to found out that AP means anteroposterior, and another search to find out what anteroposterior means.

The mouse wheel clicks faintly as I scroll through the three images. I know I’m looking for something small—if it were something big, I probably would’ve known about it already. In the other window, I pull up pictures of normal ankles to compare to mine.

It’s on the oblique view that I find the break. Obvious, now that I’m looking for it. A small corner of the big leg bone is jagged and missing, right next to the small leg bone. On every other x-ray I can pull up, it’s smooth and straight.

That must be it. That’s why they asked. I’m broken without knowing it.

Eleven years ago, my ex and I are at Bed, Bath and Beyond after seeing some friends. It’s near closing, and we’ve only just walked into the clearance section. These are the days before I carried my cell everywhere, so it’s her phone that rings.

She picks up and I can already tell from her face that it’s bad. She hands the phone to me; I take it hesitantly.

It’s my mom. She’s telling me you’ve died. You died yesterday. She’s telling me to call your mom about the funeral.

My legs give way. I’m kneeling in the goddamn store because of you, I’m fucking crying. My ex gathers me up and leads me out of the store.

You make my chest shake, you make my breathing ragged, you hurt so bad I can’t bear it. I remember yesterday. I’d gotten pulled over, but only a warning. I had lunch with my mom, and she asked how you were. I said we hadn’t talked in a while. You’d missed my wedding, even though the last time we spoke, I invited you.

I said that we were growing apart. It happens after high school.

I was going to call you after that, but I had plans that afternoon. I’d call during the week. I didn’t call you yesterday. And today you’re dead.

I call your mom. I don’t ask when they found you—in the morning, in the afternoon.

You left with that ambiguity. Before or after lunch. When did you die?

Could I have saved you?

Did I kill you?

You won’t fucking answer. You’ll never fucking answer.

Hours of searching later. The bone is the tibia. The ankle is a jungle of ligaments. I find the one that attaches where I see the jagged bone.

Anterior tibiofibular ligament.

I take that phrase. Throw it into Google. Add “avulsion fracture.”

Wagstaffe avulsion fracture.

Pictures of that. No, that’s not it—on those, the small bone broke. It’s my large bone that broke.

I add tibia-in-quotes. Nothing helpful. Finally, I find a list of all ankle fractures. There’s one listed above Wagstaffe.

Tillaux-Chaput avulsion fracture.

I google that. Look at the images. It’s in the right place. It looks like my x-ray.

Change the search to webpages. Click the Wikipedia result.


I’d decided to go home with you. This involved sneaking onto your bus at high school, riding it, praying that no one would check my school ID and see that I was on the wrong bus. They didn’t, and so we ended up by your house on the wrong side of Spring Street.

I was limping; I’d fallen on the stairs at home a few days earlier and landed on my foot sideways. My ankle was wrapped in an Ace bandage. It was bruised, and swollen, and I just had to show it to my gym teacher to be excused for the entire week. I could walk on it, though, so that’s all I did. Wrapped it with an Ace bandage and limped.

I don’t know why you decided to dart across the street, but you did. Maybe it was because you thought it would be easier for me than walking to the crosswalk and waiting for the traffic would clear. Maybe it had nothing to do with me at all.

But you ran, and I followed. Payless shoe and bandage and strained sock banging against asphalt again and again, threatening to give way with each step, even turning slightly despite the wrap. I cry out in pain.

We go to your house after that. I sit on the floor of your bedroom and we hang out until my mom comes after work to pick me up. By then my ankle is swelling again, bruising anew. It takes weeks for it to stop hurting.

I can pinpoint my age easily. The first ankle injury was from trying to run down the stairs with a candy bar I’d bought from my sister’s fundraising kit. Elementary school fundraising was only done in fourth grade, to raise money for a trip to Springfield. My sister had to be in fourth grade. I had to be in ninth grade.

It was sunny out, and warm enough not to wear a coat. It had to be fall or spring. But in November, you drank vodka that was older than you from my parents’ bar and had to have your stomach pumped, so we didn’t hang out outside of school for a while. And during the warmer part of the spring, the fundraising for Springfield stopped.

Fall of 1997. Before Thanksgiving.

At the end of September, or the beginning of October, my class went to Lord’s Park. I know my ankle was fine then; I walked over roots and threw a spear with ease. The oldest file on my computer is an essay on the trip that was due as an assignment. When I right click on it, I can see it was last modified on October 15th, 1997.

Sometime in October or November of 1997, we ran across Spring Street together.

A Tillaux-Chaput fracture usually occurs between the ages of twelve and fifteen.

I was fourteen.

Displacement of less than two millimeters can usually be treated conservatively with immobilization.

We ran on my sprained ankle together.

Displacement of greater than two millimeters should be treated surgically, or risk early-onset traumatic osteoarthritis.

I have a trick ankle.

My ankle has been hurting for years.

You fucker. I’ve been missing you all this time. I’ll cry myself to sleep tonight over you. But how can I miss you when you’re already here?

You’re written in my bones.

Both the Time Lords and the Board of Trustees failed at decision-making

The movement to reinstate Dr. Steven Salaita’s contract with the University of Illinois has largely—though not exclusively—been spearheaded and joined by students and faculty who are affiliated with departments that are located “south of Green Street.” This is campus shorthand for the humanities, for fine arts and education, for the social sciences and cultural studies. This has led to the popular perception that the issues that the rescinding of Dr. Salaita’s contract raise impact only a small portion of the campus’s population. This has certainly become the dominant rhetoric on Reddit, where the topic has been met with ad hominem attacks on the organizers and assertions that Salaita should not be teaching at the University of Illinois. More than anything else, however, I have seen the affair dismissed as something only of concern to “academia”, and not to the majority of the campus community. Aside from being alarmingly narrow-viewed, this stance is dangerous to the University’s continued excellence and ongoing reputation across all departments.

Strong Opinions Are Not Limited to the Humanities

In my letter to the University of Illinois Board of Trustees, I made the argument that developing strong opinions on controversial topics was an occupational hazard for those who are paid to critically examine the world. This is true across disciplines; however, the nature of those topics can change based upon the field of study that an individual has chosen to follow. Members of the computer science department, or of GSLIS, or of the communications department, may take heavy exception to the abolition of net neutrality. Members of the science and engineering departments may take exception to anti-scientific creationist material being taught in schools. Either group may use strong language within a non-academic setting in order to express their opinions on this matter.

Imagine if a potential biology professor hire had tweeted about creationists affecting the science curriculum. Imagine that she used strong language, had called their actions in altering textbooks anti-scientific and moronic. Imagine then that she had further gone on to state that she wished those people who were changing the scientific curriculum would disappear. Imagine, as well, that she had an exemplary teaching record, with no complaints from students in her classes regarding her tone. Now imagine that a number of wealthy donors had written in, concerned about that professor’s tone towards students who believed in Creationism. Imagine that they had threatened to pull their money. Then imagine that the university had decided to stop that professor’s hiring, ostensibly on the basis that the professor would not be able to maintain a civil tone towards students in class. That would be ridiculous to the point of absurdity. It is, however, essentially what happened here.

Admittedly, these opinions do not deal with the same questions of oppression, war, and violence that the Palestine/Israel conflict raises. It is unfortunate that I feel as though I have to strip the question of these contexts in order to make the question of academic freedom more poignant to my intended audience. However, stripped of this context, taking a position on net neutrality or creationist thought has one inherent similarity with taking a position on the Palestine/Israel conflict: all three of those issues are associated with strong, vocal lobbies and, in some cases, an influx of money. This leads us to the second point:

Donor Pressure Should Not Override Shared Governance

The letter to the Board of Trustees that Dr. Safiya Noble recently posted made the excellent point that donor gifts are not always tied to things that make sense. Donors can make requests that are racist, sexist, or downright offensive. That they wield money, however, does not mean that they get to influence the university’s path according to their ideological beliefs. This idea—that money donated to the university should be used not to promote or suppress a specific viewpoint, but rather to promote the advancement of the university in general—lies at the heart of debates about academic freedom. Though neither the Chancellor nor the Board of Trustees will confirm that donor pressure was a factor in their decision, evidence in the form of emails exists that several large donors complained about his impending appointment, and that at least one large donor met with the Chancellor in the days leading up to her decision to rescind Dr. Salaita’s contract.

Part of what is most disturbing about this is the utter lack of consideration that the Department of American Indian Studies and the Collage of Liberal Arts and Sciences were given in making this decision. Keep in mind that, on a departmental level, making a hiring decision is not an easy process. Candidates and their worth must be vetted by the department heads in great depth. Their expertise must be determined to not only be outstanding, but also valuable for the department’s ongoing development and needs. In Tuesday’s press conference, Dr. Robert Warrior, the head of the Department of American Indian Studies, stated that Dr. Salaita was an excellent fit for the department not only based on his scholarship, but also because of his expertise and willingness to participate in curriculum development. In further evaluation by the University, the uniqueness of his scholarship was cited as being of “obvious intellectual value.”

That these determinations were made moot by a handful of angry letters and the threat of disappearing funds is a stark warning to all departments. Donors can threaten to remove funds for any and all reasons. They could do it for ideological reasons, for idiotic reasons, for reasons of business and reasons of personal conviction. It does not behoove the University to follow these whims. If, for instance, a number of donors wanted to endow the computer science department, but wanted as a contingency that all university software development by both faculty and students use only the .NET framework, we would find that to be untenable. If campus administration were then to object to the hiring of any professor who disliked, decried, or otherwise slammed .NET or Microsoft on the grounds of those donors’ objections, we would be up in arms. After all, the administration aren’t experts in the field; they probably don’t even know how to program. Who would they be to dictate what is and isn’t acceptable and relevant and useful in the field of computer science?

The subjective nature of the humanities does not make these demands somehow acceptable. It seems, however, as though much of the campus is willing to accept that it does. We’re willing to accept this kind of interference and pressure because it keeps us from an unpleasant truth.

Of Course It’s About Racism

This is not the first time that the University of Illinois, Chancellor Wise, racism, and social media have intersected. Earlier this year, a number of racist and sexist comments regarding Chancellor Wise were posted by students on Twitter, attracting national media attention. The students who did this were not punished. The general consensus that I saw on Reddit’s /r/uiuc subforum  at that time was that these tweets—as offensive as they were—should not be punished. Now, less than a year later, we’re judging that a different set of far less offensive tweets should be grounds for excluding a professor who is well-regarded in his field from the University’s academic community.

Dr. Salaita’s remarks were strong, yes. They were undoubtedly born from anger at the death of children and at the plight of the Palestinian people. They also deconstructed the way in which accusations of anti-Semitism were used by strongly pro-Israeli voices in order to discredit those who question Israel’s expansion, military actions, or treatment of the Palestinian people. He objected to the use of the term in ways that cheapened its impact. He particularly objected to the use of the term in ways that forced critics to either silently condone hundreds of Palestinian deaths or accept the label of anti-Semite. While they were extremely critical of Israeli policy, of Israeli expansion in the West Bank, and of Israeli military action, they were explicitly not a condemnation of all Jews, or even all Israelis. The full context of his tweets makes this apparent.

This puts the denizens of /r/uiuc in a delicate position. If the loss of a potential snow day is adequate cause for UIUC students to exercise their free speech in ways that are racist and sexist without the administration exacting retribution, then the Palestine/Israel conflict is certainly cause for UIUC faculty to harshly—and, yes, even vulgarly—attack and deconstruct that conflict’s tragedies and rhetoric. We need to ask ourselves why it is that we consider one of these things more forgivable than the other. This requires a great deal of introspection, an action that will likely result in some less-than-pleasant revelations about ourselves and the community that we live in.

These revelations are hard to swallow; after all, it’s always difficult to admit our own weaknesses, to own up to our own biases and flaws. It’s easy to stand by speech when it agrees with you; it is far more difficult to stand by that with which you disagree, or—more to the point—that to which you are indifferent. Yet that is what the current situation with the administration demands. We need to stand together—engineers and media scholars, computer scientists and historians—in order to prevent the university administration from riding roughshod over our departments.

Thanks to Evan Biller for the cartoon.