University of South Florida: The ‘Heckler’s Veto’

Category: Due Process, Free Speech
Schools: University of South Florida

Computer Science Professor Sami Al-Arian no longer faces termination for his alleged “disruption” of university activities, which FIRE protested through a letter from Alan Charles Kors to University of South Florida (USF) President Judy Genshaft. In the letter, Kors denounced USF’s termination of Professor Al-Arian due to FIRE’s belief that his firing was an example of a “heckler’s veto,” which the letter deemed to be the public outcry against Professor Al-Arian shortly after FoxNews television host Bill O’Reilly’s implication that Professor Al-Arian was sympathetic to terrorists. While Professor Al-Arian is still terminated, USF changed the justification of his firing in August 2002 after alleging that Professor Al-Arian engaged in a pattern of sanctionable and criminal activity by aiding terrorists and financing their activities.




  • USF Sues for Right to Fire Professor

    August 22, 2002

    By Anita Kumar at St. Petersburg Times USF says it can prove that professor Sami Al-Arian has ties to terrorists and asks the court to determine whether firing him would violate his constitutional rights. TAMPA — For months, it appeared that the University of South Florida was prepared to fire professor Sami Al-Arian for things he said and did after Sept. 11. On Wednesday the university dramatically changed course, saying it can prove that for 14 years Al-Arian has had ties to terrorists that have seriously damaged USF. In a lawsuit filed Wednesday, USF accused Al-Arian of raising money for terrorist groups, […]

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  • USF President: Palestinian Prof has Terrorist Ties Should be Fired

    August 21, 2002

    By Rachel La Corte at The Associated Press State & Local Wire University of South Florida officials accused a tenured Palestinian professor of having terrorist ties and filed a lawsuit Wednesday asking a court to determine whether firing him would violate his free speech rights. The university filed a complaint for “declaratory relief” asking the courts to enter a judgment that its plan to fire computer science professor Sami Al-Arian would not violate his constitutional rights, USF President Judy Genshaft said at a campus news conference. The complaint was filed in state court in Tampa and includes the termination letter the university will […]

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  • Sami Al-Arian: Victim of Intolerance or Threat to a University’s Stability?

    February 6, 2002

    The Topic   Since September 11, there have been numerous incidents in which faculty members have been criticized for their comments about terrorism, U.S. foreign policy, and the Middle East. But only one tenured professor — Sami Al-Arian of the University of South Florida — faces the prospect of losing his job for his public comments. Mr. Al-Arian has been the source of controversy at the university for several years, with his critics saying that his comments about Israel promote hate and his defenders saying that he is a caring professor whose comments — however controversial — must be defended […]

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  • Some really offensive ideas on campus

    February 3, 2002

    A university is a place of open inquiry, vigorous intellectual debate and untrammeled scholarly freedom. But during a national crisis, even universities sometimes take the position that if you can’t say the right thing, you should put a sock in it. In past emergencies, the suppression of dissent has been commonplace and thoroughly popular. During World War I, pacifists, leftists and other opponents of the U.S. military effort were sent to prison for their trouble. President Nixon’s fury at the anti-war movement led to the abuses of the Watergate scandal. So it would not have been surprising to see a […]

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  • USF President’s Choice Carries Ramifications

    February 2, 2002

    By Graham Brink at St. Petersburg Times University of South Florida president Judy Genshaft says her decision on whether to fire controversial professor Sami Al-Arian is one of the most important in the school’s 46-year history. But the stakes may be just as high for her. Some academics think a decision to fire Al-Arian could cripple any ambitions she may harbor to run a more prestigious university. “At good universities, the faculty have power and those faculties would never agree to someone being hired who is widely believed to have caved in to political pressure,” said Roy Weatherford, president of USF’s faculty union. […]

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  • USF Faculty Union Supports Al-Arian

    January 11, 2002

    By Babita Persaud at St. Petersburg Times A union representing University of South Florida professors voted Thursday night to throw its full support behind fired professor Sami Al-Arian as he fights to regain his job at USF. The meeting of the United Faculty of Florida, held off campus at a pizza parlor on Fowler Avenue, was attended by Al-Arian, a union member, and about 40 faculty members. “We are on record saying they did the wrong thing,” said Roy Weatherford, president of the union’s USF chapter. USF president Judy Genshaft decided to fire Al-Arian on Dec. 19, saying his presence on campus […]

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