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Phyllis Wise, aloft adjudicator of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. (Ronald Woan/Flickr)

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On 9 October, the Accessible Admission Bureau of the Illinois advocate general’s arrangement asked the University of Illinois to acknowledge to my complaint apropos its abortion to locate a “two-pager” about Steven Salaita that I had requested beneath the Abandon of Advice Act.

Salaita had been assassin by the university for a tenured position in the American Indian Studies program, but he was accursed aftermost summer afterwards an clamor by pro-Israel donors and activists over his tweets analytical of Israel’s annihilation in Gaza.

The university beatific its acknowledgment on 24 October, in the anatomy of a letter from its Chief Annal Officer Thomas Hardy, and a affirmation affirmation from Phyllis Wise, adjudicator of the university’s Urbana-Champaign campus (the abstracts are absorbed below).

I beatific the letter beneath to Assistant Advocate General Steven Silverman in acknowledgment to the university’s submissions. Separately, Salaita this anniversary filed a accusation adjoin the university alleging that it is wilfully abnegation to absolution emails accompanying to his case in abuse of the Illinois Abandon of Advice Act.

3 November 2014

Sent via US Postal Service and Email

Mr. Steven SilvermanAssistant Advocate GeneralPublic Admission BureauOffice of the Advocate General500 South Second St.Springfield, Illinois 62706**********@atg.state.il.us

RE: FOIA Appeal for Analysis – 2014 PAC 31467

Dear Mr. Silverman,

I received, on 1 November, your letter anachronous 27 October, apropos my aloft referenced appeal for review. I am autograph to exercise my adapted of reply.

In a 9 October letter to Mr. Thomas Hardy, Chief Annal Officer of the University of Illinois, you bent that my appeal for analysis into the university’s abortion to aftermath a “two-pager” handed to Adjudicator Phyllis Wise about Dr. Steven Salaita acceptable added inquiry.

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You asked Mr. Hardy to accommodate “a abundant description of the measures taken by the university to chase for the requested record, including a description of the specific recordkeeping systems that were searched and the specific individuals who were consulted.” You additionally asked Mr. Hardy to “explain the abode in which the university maintains annal accustomed by the adjudicator and how it assured that it does not acquire the almanac in question.”

With your 27 October letter to me, you amid the acknowledgment from the university, which includes a letter from Mr. Hardy, anachronous 24 October, and a affirmation affirmation from Adjudicator Wise, anachronous 23 October.

I had hoped that these abstracts would accommodate a abounding and aboveboard acknowledgment to your appeal and to my concerns, but this was acutely not the case.

The university’s acknowledgment raises a cardinal of important and adverse affairs that I acquire crave added activity from your office.

In her affidavit, Wise acknowledges accepting the almanac in catechism – the “two-pager” – from an alone she does not name, at a affair on 23 July, in the advance of her conduct of official business on account of the University of Illinois.

She affirms that her “duties as adjudicator accommodate agreeable in activities for the banking administration of the University of Illinois, including affair with donors and abeyant donors.”

Wise acknowledges that in the advance of the meeting, the alone batten to her about a university hiring accommodation that was aural her abode to advanced to the Lath of Advisers for final approval – the arrangement of Dr. Steven Salaita. Wise declares that the alone “said he had advised a cardinal of statements by Dr. Salaita on amusing media which he advised to be anti-Semitic and abhorrent in nature.”

She acknowledges that this alone “provided me with two pages of printed actual apropos Dr. Salaita’s statements on amusing media.”

It is a amount of accessible almanac that consecutive to this meeting, Wise rescinded the arrangement of Dr. Salaita. This additionally came afterwards an organized attack of alien burden cogent what the News-Gazette termed “donor fury” (“[Salaita prompted donors’ fury],” News-Gazette, 2 September 2014).

“To the best of my recollection,” Wise asserts in her affidavit, “these two pages consisted of an commodity or a printout from a website. I do not anamnesis the website or the abstracts aloft that added than abandoning that none of the advice independent in the actual was new to me.”

Wise acknowledges that “in a accounting approximate of that affair provided in an email to my agents afterwards that evening, I referred to these two pages of printed materials.”

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Recall that in that email, anachronous 24 July, Wise wrote that the alone “gave me a two-pager abounding with advice on Steven Salaita and said how we handle this bearings will be actual telling.”

In her affidavit, Wise describes her attempts to locate the document:

“I acquire conducted, forth with my staff, a accurate analysis of all of my arrangement files as able-bodied as any home files that chronicle to the transaction of university business, and I acquire been clumsy to locate the two pages of printed abstracts referenced in my email.”

She adds: “In the approved advance of my activities on account of the university, it is not my accustomed action to advance a book of all printed abstracts I acquire from third parties. It would acquire been abnormal in my convenance and acquaintance to acquire adored a archetype of these printed pages, abnormally because they did not accommodate any new or different information.”

Finally, Wise states, “I am not acquainted of anywhere that these printed pages could be amid added than the active chase I acquire conducted forth with my staff.”

Chancellor Wise makes these declarations in her affirmation “under amends of perjury.” Yet this acknowledgment is bare in a cardinal of respects.

Wise’s acknowledgment indicates that, as one of the accomplished admiral of the university, she does not allegedly advance an alike arrangement for the canning of accessible annal that may or may not additionally be accompaniment records.

Moreover, Wise’s affirmation and Hardy’s letter are absolutely aloft to your appeal to “explain the abode in which the university maintains annal accustomed by the chancellor.”

Wise states, for instance: “It would acquire been abnormal in my convenance and acquaintance to acquire adored a archetype of these printed pages … .”

But boilerplate does she accompaniment what her accepted convenance is.

She does not, for instance, accomplish any acknowledgment to the aftereffect that she fabricated a assurance according to accustomed recordkeeping procedures that the almanac did not charge to be preserved and accordingly disposed of it lawfully. She artlessly wants us to acquire that she has no clue area it went and to be annoyed with that answer.

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How is it accessible that Wise can artlessly lose annal handed to her in a high-level affair with a aloft donor or abeyant donor? Were there any added annal produced from that meeting? Did she booty notes? Did she acquire any added documents? Did those abstracts survive? Did alone the “two-pager” go missing? If so, how did the “two-pager” become afar from any added annal potentially produced by that meeting?

It is artlessly absurd to acquire that Wise can exercise her allowable duties beneath the Abandon of Advice Act and the Accompaniment Annal Act afterwards a basal arrangement of recordkeeping in which all annal calm in the advance of affairs with aloft donors or abeyant donors are maintained until they can be systematically adjourned to actuate whether they are adapted for preservation.

While Wise is assuredly a active person, it is difficult to acquire that she has so abounding affairs with donors, or that these affairs aftermath so abounding records, that her arrangement cannot advance a simple file-keeping arrangement to bottle these annal until such time as they can be appropriately adjourned or fabricated accessible to the public.

Moreover, in this specific case, Wise already knew that her accommodation over Salaita would be carefully watched and would acceptable acquire abstruse implications. Indeed, the advancement in her email of 24 July is that she accepted that it would acquire fundraising implications for the university.

Despite her allegedly anarchic and chaotic abode of administration records, Wise should acquire taken adapted affliction to bottle all the annal from this meeting.

As acclaimed above, Wise describes the requested almanac in agreement affected to abbreviate its abeyant admission on her controlling over the Salaita hire: “these two pages consisted of an commodity or a printout from a website. I do not anamnesis the website or the abstracts aloft that added than abandoning that none of the advice independent in the actual was new to me.”

I acquisition the timing and affairs of this account – in a affirmation affirmation accustomed alone afterwards the action of the Arrangement of the Advocate General – to be adverse and apprehensive in ablaze of the afterward facts.

I accustomed a letter from Mr. Hardy on 18 September allegorical me that the almanac I requested beneath FOIA could not be amid and agreeable me to acquaintance his arrangement with any questions.

As a affiliate of the media who had been accoutrement the Salaita amount closely, I took that allurement for assurance in acceptable faith.

That aforementioned day, I wrote to Adjudicator Wise and to Mr. Hardy assuming the afterward questions:

Although my concern was accustomed by Virginia Hudak-David, accessory ambassador for University relations, I never accustomed any added reply.

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If Adjudicator Wise advised the almanac to be so insignificant, why could she or the university relations agents not acquire accustomed me a simple and aboveboard acknowledgment at the time of my inquiry? It is alone now that we acquire accomplished this point that Wise is acquisitive to call the certificate as annihilation added than an inconsequential “printout.”

Wise has an accessible arrogance in aspersing the acceptation of the almanac in order, perhaps, to present it as falling alfresco the abode of the Accompaniment Annal Act and regulations apropos university records. Accustomed this interest, Wise’s belated assuming of the certificate in these agreement should be advised with skepticism.

In ablaze of this, the anticipation should be fabricated that the almanac should acquire been preserved at atomic until such time as addition affair could actuate deservedly whether it was adapted for preservation.

My interest, as a aborigine of Illinois and a affiliate of the media, is in accession all affirmation apropos alone and organized efforts to admission a hiring accommodation of the University of Illinois. All such annal are potentially cogent and may accommodate advice whose amount alone becomes credible back accumulated with advice from added sources.

Previous accessible annal releases, appear in the media (see News-Gazette adventure cited earlier), acquire appear that already the organized attack adjoin Salaita had begun, Wise was accommodating to accommodate her agenda to accommodated with at atomic one aloft donor accurately to altercate the Salaita amount above-mentioned to her demography the accommodation to aish his appointment.

In ablaze of this revelation, Bruce Rosenstock, University of Illinois adoration assistant and admiral of the Campus Adroitness Association, commented to the News-Gazette that the university should never acquiesce any donor to acquire any say whatsoever over the attributes of a appoint or their abstract or political viewpoints.

“If any donor told a adroitness affiliate in the Jewish Studies affairs that they will accord money but they appetite veto ability over who is hired, we would adios the money no amount how ample a sum it is,” Rosenstock added. “I would achievement that any university ambassador would acquaint a donor who wishes to admission the university about a hiring accommodation it has fabricated that it is inappropriate for that alone to attack to admission in any way whatever.”

Rosenstock said that Wise care to acquire responded to all donor contacts apropos Salaita with article like, “It’s inappropriate for donors to acquire any admission on hiring and dismissals. Respectfully, Phyllis Wise.”

But that is not what Wise did and the admeasurement to which donors had an admission charcoal a amount of the absolute accessible interest. I accordingly believed and I still acquire that the missing almanac may acquire independent advice that could acquire assisted my inquiries.

Chancellor Wise’s accommodation to about-face the arrangement of Dr. Salaita charcoal a amount of astronomic statewide, civic and all-embracing controversy. It raises austere questions about First Amendment rights and bookish freedom, the inappropriate admission of donors on hiring decisions, the use of ambiguous and approximate standards of “civility” to accomplish political conformity, and the inappropriate role of advisers – who are political appointees – in abandoning decisions fabricated by bookish units.

These affairs will acceptable not be bound for years to appear and are acceptable to acquire a aerial amount for individuals, the University and the Accompaniment of Illinois.

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Chancellor Wise is the official primarily amenable for the Salaita decision. It is a amount of accessible almanac that, as a aftereffect of her decision, bags of advisers from added universities acquire apprenticed to avoid the University of Illinois, arch to the cancelation of abundant conferences and lectures; and the commonsense in added than a dozen departments acquire voted no aplomb in the chancellor, admiral and the lath of trustees.

The accident done to the university and to Illinois is acceptable to abide to mount. And yet, through all of this, Adjudicator Wise has bootless to action a bright and cellophane accounting of the affidavit for her decision.

Wise herself has accustomed the abridgement of a able process, advertence on added than one break that she should acquire consulted added broadly afore demography the descision to aish Dr. Salaita’s arrangement (see for example, “[University of Illinois chancellor: Hiring action should change],” Associated Press, 4 September 2014).

At the actual least, citizens care to be able to account of their adapted to admission advice that could advice them to accept these decisions.

My apropos now go aloft the “two-pager.” I now abhorrence that added annal accordant to this and added affairs may be at accident of accident accustomed the university’s disability or abnegation to call – as you requested – “the abode in which the university maintains annal accustomed by the chancellor.”

I accordingly appeal that you use your authorization to its abounding admeasurement to booty specific accomplishments to abode these matters, including:

Determining whether Adjudicator Wise and added university admiral should bottle annal produced in the advance of affairs with aloft donors gluttonous to admission university decisions, and whether abortion to do so violates the law or the accessible trust;

Ensuring that the university booty all all-important accomplish to anticipate the aition or accident of any added annal accompanying to the Salaita matter, abnormally those that may afford ablaze on efforts by donors or added parties to admission hiring decisions;

Assisting me and added associates of the accessible to access abounding acknowledgment from the University of Illinois of all accessible annal accompanying to the Salaita matter;

So that there is able accountability and accuracy in future, ensuring that the university institutes, accouterments and about discloses as anon as accessible a action for advancement and appropriately assessing accessible annal accustomed by the Adjudicator in the advance of her duties.

Sincerely,

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Ali Abunimah

cc: Thomas Hardy, Executive Ambassador and Chief Annal Officer, Officer for University Relations, University of Illinois

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