By Associated Press - Monday, March 16, 2015

URBANA, Ill. (AP) - Anita Hill has canceled a planned visit to the University of Illinois over a lawsuit against the school from a professor whose job offer was rescinded.

In a column on The Huffington Post, Hill said in a column on the lawsuit from Steven Salaita “erodes the possibility of the open conversation I had hoped to have.” The school took back his job offer after he posted profane, anti-Israel messages on Twitter.

Hill said the dispute between the school and Salaita reflects a tension between “the prohibition against language that furthers a hostile environment and freedom of expression.”

“I naively thought that a fruitful conversation on the campus of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign could lead to reconciliation based on the shared interest behind both, even with the Salaita affair as a backdrop,” Hill wrote.

Hill testified against Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas as part of Senate confirmation hearings in 1991, accusing him of sexual harassment.

The News-Gazette ( ) reports Hill, now a professor at Brandeis University, was set to give the keynote address at the Faculty Women of Color in the Academy conference next month at the Urbana-Champaign campus. She was also scheduled to give a lecture.

In a comment on Hill’s column, conference chair and Associate Provost for Diversity Menah Pratt-Clarke said the Illinois school is “disappointed” in Hill’s decision. Pratt-Clarke confirmed in an email to The Associated Press that she wrote the comment.

A message seeking comment was left with a University of Illinois spokeswoman.

Civil rights activist and academic Cornel West has also canceled an appearance at the school, saying earlier this month its decision to take back Salaita’s job offer is “a moral scandal.”

Salaita has said the situation has left his academic career “in shambles,” and that university officials denied his right to free speech. He posted on Twitter during battles between Israel and Palestinians in Gaza in July, criticizing Israel and others.

One message sent by Salaita read: “Zionists: transforming ‘anti-Semitism’ from something horrible into something honorable since 1948.”


Information from: The News-Gazette,

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