President Judy Genshaft isn’t left with many options. A judge ruled last month to throw out the Sami Al-Arian case, sending the decision of what to do with the suspended professor back to the university. Genshaft’s indecision in this matter has dragged on for more than a year and a half. It’s time she finally did something.
The events leading up to last month’s decision are so popular, even people in other states can recite it: Al-Arian appears on the FOX News program The O’Reilly Factor following the Sept. 11 attacks. The following day he is suspended from the university and has been on paid leave ever since. This paid leave costs the university almost $70,000 a year. That is an awful lot of money to pay a professor who is not teaching or contributing to the university.
President Genshaft has been silent regarding the Al-Arian issue and had hoped by sending the case to a third party she could avoid making a decision. The fact is, she can’t. As president of the university, it is Genshaft’s job to not only show up at basketball games, but to do the dirty work as well. That means either firing Al-Arian and risking censure by the AAUP or allowing him to come back to work and weather the possible media backlash.
It is time for Genshaft to step up to the podium and speak out about the issue of Sami Al-Arian. She no longer has the luxury of hiding behind impartial third parties. The decision now falls squarely on her, as it did more than a year and a half ago. Genshaft is the only person qualified enough to make this decision. And if she chooses not to, it will send a clear message to the university and the state that students and faculty have no reason to have faith or respect in a president who refuses to make the hard decisions.