Northwestern University: Censorship of Faculty-Produced Bioethics Journal with “Bad Girls” Theme

Category: Free Speech
Schools: Northwestern University

For over 14 months, administrators at Northwestern’s Feinberg School of Medicine censored Atrium—a faculty-produced bioethics journal—because it published an issue in Winter 2014 with a “Bad Girls” theme deemed too salacious for the school’s image. Though Atrium’s issues are back online, a new administrative oversight committee was reportedly formed and is tasked with reviewing the content of Atrium’s next issue. This is a significant departure from the publication’s editorial practice, giving rise to concerns that the university will take an active role in policing the publication’s content. FIRE wrote to Northwestern on May 26, 2015, calling on the university to honor its promises of academic freedom and cease its repeated intrusions on Atrium’s editorial independence. The university has yet to respond.

  • Story of Sex with Nurse Prompts Censorship Claims at Northwestern

    June 19, 2015

    By Lisa Black at Chicago Tribune Northwestern University leaders are defending themselves for the second time this year against claims that they undermined academic freedom after faculty in the Feinberg School of Medicine complained that a risque article was removed for months from a website for the bioethics journal Atrium. The essay, called “Head Nurses,” was written by Syracuse University visiting humanities professor William Peace, who recounted a sexual experience with a nurse after he was hospitalized in 1978 with paralysis. He wrote that the nurse had acted compassionately to help him during rehabilitation in “a lost part of medical […]

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  • Northwestern Professor Fights for the Right to Free Speech and Fellatio

    June 19, 2015

    By Meghan Keenan at Red Alert Politics For the second time in recent months, Northwestern University is under fire for censoring faculty. Digital issues of a magazine published annually by one of Northwestern’s medical school programs were taken down after running an an essay called “Head Nurses,” that described a nurse performing oral sex on a patient in 1978. Atrium is a publication of the Feinberg School of Medicine’s (FSM’s) Medical Humanities and Bioethics Program (MHB), and features content from authors at institutions around the country. The theme of the Winter 2014 issue was “Bad Girls,” and included an essay […]

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  • This Unbelievable Nurse Sex Story Is Causing A Lot Of Trouble At Northwestern

    June 18, 2015

    By Blake Neff at The Daily Caller Professors at Northwestern University are locked in a bitter censorship battle with administrators that has a bizarre beginning: A professor’s vivid account of receiving oral sex from a nurse back in the 1970s.What do you think? As reported over at Inside Higher Ed, the feud began over a year ago with the publication of the Winter 2014 edition of Atrium, a bioethics journal published by the faculty of Northwestern’s medical school. The issue was titled “Bad Girls,” and dealt with the intersection between disability and sexuality.What do you think? While an odd topic, […]

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  • Northwestern Faculty Magazine Censored Over Article About Nurse Blow Job

    June 17, 2015

    By Tyler Kingkade at The Huffington Post Digital issues of an annual magazine published by Northwestern University’s Medical Humanities and Bioethics Program are now back online after school officials allegedly took them down in response to an essay that described a nurse giving a patient a blow job in 1978. Each Atrium issue is themed around a different topic, and the Winter 2104 issuefocused on the idea of “Bad Girls.” It included an essay by Syracuse University professor William Peace, who described an experience in a hospital (not Northwestern) in which a “head nurse” performed oral sex on him after […]

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  • Northwestern downplays ‘serious violations of academic freedom’ alleged in new report; censored faculty respond

    March 7, 2017

    Northwestern University has earned widespread criticism in recent years for its lack of regard for academic freedom and the expressive rights of faculty. Now, the school is minimizing the importance of a troubling new faculty-authored report about its response to a pair of high-profile faculty controversies involving professors Alice Dreger and Laura Kipnis. The Daily Northwestern broke the news last week that an ad hoc faculty committee delivered its indictment of Northwestern’s handling of those investigations back to the president of Northwestern’s faculty senate, who had ordered the report on the Dreger and Kipnis cases. The committee, chaired by law […]

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  • Northwestern University President Dismisses Concerns Over Trigger Warnings and Microaggressions

    September 21, 2016

    In the wake of the University of Chicago’s message to incoming students about academic freedom, administrators across the country have begun to weigh in on their own campuses to let students know their views on the issue. At Northwestern University (NU), president Morton Schapiro addressed new students at Monday’s convocation, and took a swipe at concerns over the phenomena of trigger warnings and microaggressions. According to The Daily Northwestern, Schapiro called those who deny the existence of microaggressions “idiots,” saying that microaggressions “cut you to the core.” Schapiro also had sharp words for those with concerns about the effect of […]

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  • ‘So to Speak’ Podcast: Alice Dreger on Academic Freedom

    August 25, 2016

    Every year, we at FIRE put out our list of the 10 worst colleges for free speech. And this year, surprisingly, half of the schools on the list earned their spot because they threatened faculty’s right to speak out in some way. One institution on that list was Northwestern University. Last year, Northwestern made headlines for its extraordinary attacks on academic freedom on two separate occasions. Once for its 72-day Title IX investigation into Professor Laura Kipnis’ public writings and comments about sexual politics on campus. And on another occasion, for its censorship of a faculty-produced bioethics journal that Northwestern […]

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  • Bioethicist Alice Dreger Resigns from Northwestern Over Censorship

    August 25, 2015

    Bioethicist and author Alice Dreger has resigned from her professorship at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine, citing continuing censorship by university administrators. “An institution in which the faculty are afraid to offend the dean is not an institution where I can in good conscience do my work,” Dreger, a professor of medical education, medical humanities, and bioethics, wrote in a letter of resignation submitted last night to Northwestern Provost Daniel Linzer. “Such an institution is not a ‘university,’ in the truest sense of that word.” Dreger points specifically to Northwestern’s ongoing censorship of the faculty-produced medical journal Atrium, of […]

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  • ‘Atrium’ Editor: I’m ‘Not Moving Forward’ With Journal Under Prior Review Requirement

    June 23, 2015

    Professor Katie Watson, editor of the embattled Atrium journal at Northwestern University, has taken a strong stance against the university’s demand for prior review of the journal’s content. As we announced in a press release last week, officials at Northwestern University have demanded prior review of the faculty-produced bioethics journal Atrium after it published an essay by Syracuse University Professor William J. Peace describing—in the context of a discussion of disability and sexuality—how he received consensual oral sex from a nurse while undergoing rehabilitation after his paralysis at the age of 18. The theme of that issue of Atrium was […]

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  • Northwestern University Largely Silent as Questions Multiply About Treatment of Faculty Journal

    June 19, 2015

    As we announced in this week’s press release, FIRE has intervened at Northwestern University following its censorship of the bioethics faculty publication Atrium and the creation of a new oversight committee to screen its content. Atrium, as we previously wrote, came under scrutiny after publishing an issue featuring an essay in which its author described how, in 1978, he had received consensual oral sex from a nurse while hospitalized for paralysis. The offending issue was removed from Atrium’s website for more than a year. FIRE has not yet received a response to our letter to Northwestern calling on the university […]

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  • Northwestern Risks Academic Freedom (Again) by Censoring Bioethics Journal with ‘Bad Girls’ Theme

    June 16, 2015

    CHICAGO, June 16, 2015—Academic freedom is apparently no longer a part of Northwestern University’s “brand.” For over 14 months, administrators at Northwestern’s Feinberg School of Medicine (FSM) censored Atrium—a faculty-produced bioethics journal—because an issue featured content with a “Bad Girls” theme deemed too salacious for the university’s image. Northwestern is now requiring that future journal content be reviewed by university administrators prior to its publication. This is the second time in less than a month that Northwestern finds itself at the center of an academic freedom controversy over issues of sex and gender. The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education […]

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