Noted Author Resigns From Northwestern University In Censorship Protest

Medical humanities and bioethics professor Alice Dreger is resigning from Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine, citing the school’s censorship of a magazine she guest edited.

Dreger, a noted researcher and author, submitted a resignation letter to Northwestern Provost Daniel Linzer on Monday. She said she’s stepping down because the university censored faculty magazine Atrium, forcing editors to take the digital issue offline after they published an article last March about a consensual blowjob involving a nurse in 1978.

In the wake of intense criticism, the medical school allowed the magazine to resume publication and to repost its online digital issues 14 months later, but it also imposed a new editorial committee that includes a public relations staffer and would have say over future issues.

In her resignation letter to Linzer, Dreger joked that, at first, she thought the censorship might have been a “publicity stunt being arranged by Penguin Press,” since she was close to publishing a book about academic freedom called Galileo’s Middle Finger: Heretics, Activists, and the Search for Justice in Science. She quickly realized that was not the case.

Instead, Dreger said she believes the university — and, specifically, Feinberg School of Medicine Dean Eric Neilson — placed the medical school’s brand above academic freedom.

“Academic freedom is always going to cause brand problems,” Dreger said in an interview on Tuesday. “A brand is very much about something specific, and a university has to not be.”

Northwestern administrators told Atrium editors that “Head Nurses,” an essay about the 1978 sexual encounter, conflicted with the university’s branding agreement with the medical school and its hospital, according to emails previously obtained by The Huffington Post.

Atrium’s articles are peer-reviewed, but, in some ways, the journal is more like a magazine. It contains essays and —> Read More