A United Faculty of Florida steering committee on Sunday unanimously voted to provide legal and financial support to controversial USF professor Sami Al-Arian.
The decision comes days after USF’s Faculty Senate voted to not support President Judy Genshaft’s decision to fire Al-Arian, and the faculty union voted to support the 16-year tenured professor if he chooses to wage a legal battle with the university.
Roy Weatherford, president for the faculty union and a member of the statewide steering committee, said the motion will be passed on to UFF’s three affiliates: The Florida Education Association, the National Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers.
From those groups, Weatherford said, the faculty union not only hopes to receive monetary support and assistance in the courtroom but publicity in each of its publications.
Weatherford will speak at a news conference today along with Al-Arian and his lawyer, Robert McKee. At the conference, Al-Arian is scheduled to reply to Provost David Stamps’ Dec. 19 letter of intent to terminate his employment.
Al-Arian was put on paid leave in late September after an appearance on a political talk show elicited death threats and renewed allegations that the professor had supported terrorism. Genshaft moved to fire Al-Arian Dec. 19 after receiving a recommendation from the Board of Trustees.
Although McKee has said despite support from both the Senate and faculty union that Genshaft will still fire Al-Arian, Weatherford said the gravity of Sunday’s vote could weigh heavily on the mind of the president.
“It is possible she will reconsider now that she knows how the faculty here and in this country feel about this issue,” Weatherford said.
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