Northwestern University

Location: Evanston, Illinois
Website: http://www.northwestern.edu
Type: Private
Federal Circuit: 7th Circuit

Speech Code Rating

Northwestern University has been given the speech code rating Yellow. Yellow light colleges and universities are those institutions with at least one ambiguous policy that too easily encourages administrative abuse and arbitrary application. Read more here.

Yellow Light Policies
  • Student Handbook: Statement of Community Principles and Values

    Speech Code Category: Policies on Tolerance, Respect, and Civility
    Last updated: June 19, 2015

    Civility and respect are expected behaviors.

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  • Student Handbook: Residence Hall Rules and Regulations

    Speech Code Category: Posting and Distribution Policies
    Last updated: June 19, 2015

    Signs or posters in windows or on doors must have the approval of all roommates and are subject to the approval of the University.

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  • Campus Publicity Policies and Procedures: General Policies

    Speech Code Category: Posting and Distribution Policies
    Last updated: June 19, 2015

    All posters, flyers, and other notices must clearly state the name(s) of the sponsoring student(s) and/ or organization(s).

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  • Prohibited Use of Electronic Resources for Threats, Harassment, and Pornography

    Speech Code Category: Internet Usage Policies
    Last updated: June 19, 2015

    Use of the University’s Electronic Resources by any System User to send threatening or harassing content or messages or to view, download, retransmit, distribute or otherwise communicate content or messages that may violate the University’s Policy on Discrimination and Harassment and/or Policy on Sexual Harassment, is prohibited.

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  • Student Handbook: Hate Crimes and Bias Incidents

    Speech Code Category: Policies on Bias and Hate Speech
    Last updated: June 19, 2015

    A bias incident is an act of con­duct, speech, or expression to which a bias motive is evident as a contributing factor (regardless of whether the act is criminal). Sanctions may be imposed for students found to have committed hate crimes and for bias incidents that involve conduct that violates laws or University policies, specifically including the University’s Discrimination and Harassment Policy.

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  • Student Handbook: Civility, Mutual Respect, and Unacceptability of Violence on Campus

    Speech Code Category: Policies on Tolerance, Respect, and Civility
    Last updated: June 19, 2015

    Unacceptable behavior. Demeaning, intimidating, threatening, or violent behaviors that affect the ability to learn, work, or live in the University environment depart from the standard for civility and respect. These behaviors have no place in the academic community.

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  • Student Handbook: Discrimination and Harassment

    Speech Code Category: Harassment Policies
    Last updated: June 19, 2015

    Harassment — whether verbal, physical, or visual — that is based on any of these characteristics is a form of discrimination. This includes harassing conduct affecting tangible job benefits, interfering unreasonably with an individual’s academic or work performance, or creating what a reasonable person would sense is an intimidating, hostile, or offensive environment.

    Examples of discrimination and harassment may include …
    • Jokes or epithets about a person’s protected status
    • Teasing or practical jokes directed at a person based on his or her protected status
    • Displaying or circulating written materi­als or pictures that degrade a person or group
    • Verbal abuse or insults about, directed at, or made in the presence of an individual or group of individuals in a protected group

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  • Student Handbook: Sexual Misconduct, Stalking, and Dating and Domestic Violence

    Speech Code Category: Harassment Policies
    Last updated: June 30, 2015

    Sexual harassment is any unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature, which includes, but is not limited to, unwelcome sexual advances; the use or threatened use of sexual favors as a basis for academic or employment decisions; conduct that creates a hostile, intimidating or offensive academic or working environment; conduct that has the effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual’s work performance; and other verbal, nonverbal, or physical conduct of a sexual nature that is sufficiently severe, persis­tent, or pervasive to limit a person’s ability to participate in or benefit from an educational program or activity.

    Some examples of sexual harassment may include:
    • Pressure for a dating, romantic, or intimate relationship
    • Unwelcome touching, kissing, hugging, or massaging
    • Pressure for or forced sexual activity
    • Unnecessary references to parts of the body
    • Remarks about a person’s gender or sexual orientation
    • Sexual innuendoes or humor
    • Obscene gestures
    • Sexual graffiti, pictures, or posters
    • Sexually explicit profanity
    • Stalking or cyberbullying that is based on gender or sex
    • Email, texting (“sexting”) and Internet use that violates this policy
    • Sexual assault or violence
    All forms of sexual misconduct identified in this policy are also prohibited forms of sexual harassment. For more information about sexual harassment, please see the University’s complete Policy on Sexual Harassment.

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  • Student Handbook: Prohibited Conduct

    Speech Code Category: Harassment Policies
    Last updated: June 19, 2015

    Physical abuse of any person or any action that threatens or endangers the emotional well-being, health, or safety of any person (including oneself).

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  • Campus Publicity Policies and Procedures: Advertising – Leaflets & Handbills

    Speech Code Category: Posting and Distribution Policies
    Last updated: June 19, 2015

    Permission to leaflet at the Rock or any other campus location must be obtained from the Norris Events Planning and Production Office.

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  • Policy Guidelines for the Northwestern Community: Sexual Harassment

    Speech Code Category: Harassment Policies
    Last updated: June 19, 2015

    Harassment, whether verbal, physical, or visual, that is based on any of these characteristics is a form of discrimination.

    . . .

    ● Teasing or practical jokes directed at a person based on his or her protected status

    ● Jokes or epithets about a person’s protected status

    ● Displaying or circulating written materials or pictures that degrade a person or group

    ● Verbal abuse or insults about, directed at, or made in the presence of an individual or group of individuals in a protected group

    . . .

    Sexual harassment is any unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature, which includes, but is not limited to, unwelcome sexual advances; the use or threatened use of sexual favors as a basis for academic or employment decisions; conduct that creates a hostile, intimidating, or offensive academic or working environment; conduct that has the effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual’s work performance; and other verbal, nonverbal, or physical conduct of a sexual nature that is sufficiently severe, persistent, or pervasive to limit a person’s ability to participate in or benefit from an educational program or activity.

    . . .

    Examples of sexual harassment may include

    . . .

    ● Unnecessary references to parts of the body● Remarks about a person’s gender or sexual orientation

    ● Sexual innuendoes or humor

    ● Obscene gestures

    ● Sexual graffiti, pictures, or posters

    ● Sexually explicit profanity

    ● Stalking or cyberbullying

    ● Email, texting, “sexting,” and Internet use that violates this policy

    . . .

    While Northwestern University is committed to the principles of free inquiry and free expression, discrimination and harassment identified in this policy are neither legally protected expression nor the proper exercise of academic freedom.

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Green Light Policies
  • Division of Student Affairs: Campus Inclusion and Community – Academic Freedom/Freedom of Speech

    Speech Code Category: Advertised Commitments to Free Expression
    Last updated: June 19, 2015

    Northwestern University is committed to the ideals of academic freedom and freedom of speech — to providing a learning environment that encourages a robust, stimulating, and thought-provoking exchange of ideas. Our commitment to addressing bias incidents is not intended to stifle these freedoms, nor will it be permitted to do so.

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  • Student Handbook: Disruption

    Speech Code Category: Advertised Commitments to Free Expression
    Last updated: June 19, 2015

    Northwestern University stands for freedom of speech, freedom of inquiry, freedom of dissent, and freedom to demonstrate in peaceful fashion.

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  • Student Handbook: Student Rights

    Speech Code Category: Advertised Commitments to Free Expression
    Last updated: June 19, 2015

    Policy Statement on Student Rights and Responsibilities

    . . .

    8. Students will be free from censorship in the publication and dissemination of their views as long as these are not represented as the views of Northwestern University and do not violate any University policies.

    9. Student publications are free from any official action controlling editorial policy. Publications shall not bear the name of the University or purport to issue from it with­ out University approval.

    10. Students are free to form, join, and participate in any group for intellectual, religious, social, economic, political, or cultural purposes.

    11. A student is free, individually or in association with other individuals, to engage in all campus activities, exercising the right of a citizen of the community, state, and nation, provided he or she does not in any way purport to represent the University.

    12. Students are free to use campus facilities for meetings of student­ chartered campus organizations, subject to policies as to time and manner governing the facility.

    13. Students may invite and hear speakers of their choice on subjects of their choice, and approval will not be withheld by University officers for the purpose of censorship.

    14. Students will have their views and welfare considered in the formation of University policy and will be consulted by or represented on University committees that affect students as members of the University community.

    15. Students are free to assemble, to demonstrate, to communicate, and to protest, recognizing that freedom requires order, discipline, and responsibility and further recognizing the right of all faculty and students to pursue their legitimate goals without interference.

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  • Information Technology Policies: Intellectual Freedom

    Speech Code Category: Advertised Commitments to Free Expression, Internet Usage Policies
    Last updated: June 19, 2015

    Intellectual Freedom: The University is a free and open forum for the expression of ideas, including viewpoints that are strange, unorthodox, or unpopular. The University network is the same. Network administrators place no official sanctions upon the expression of personal opinion on the network. However, such opinions may not be represented as the views of Northwestern University.

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  • Censored into Resignation?

    August 26, 2015

    By Colleen Flaherty at Inside Higher Ed A second faculty member has resigned from Northwestern University over its medical school’s reaction to a provocative article published in a faculty journal. “It’s so petty — that’s what I kept saying — it’s a frickin’ blow job in 1978,” said Alice Dreger, a professor of medical humanities and bioethics at Northwestern who gave her notice this week over the alleged ongoing censorship of the university medical humanities faculty journal Atrium, which has suspended publication after a funding cut. “Of course, it wound up as the Streisand effect, where everybody pays attention,” Dreger added. While Atrium is […]

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  • US Bioethicist Quits Over Censorship Row at Northwestern University

    August 26, 2015

    By Jack Grove at Times Higher Education A leading US bioethicist has resigned her professorship in protest at censorship by university administrators. In an explosive resignation letter published on 24 August, Alice Dreger said that she could no longer work at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine because of its ongoing intervention in the faculty-produced journal Atrium, which she has guest edited. Dr Dreger, who held a professorship in clinical medicine humanities and bioethics, said that she had been appalled to hear that Atrium’s Bad Girls-themed Winter 2014 edition, which she edited, had been withdrawn online at the behest of […]

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  • Northwestern University Professor Resigns Over Censorship

    August 26, 2015

    By Meghan Keenan at Red Alert Politics A Northwestern University professor resigned after a decade of work, citing an ongoing censorship fight with 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,” Alice Dreger wrote in a letter of resignation submitted on Monday to Northwestern Provost Daniel Linzer. “Such an institution is not a ‘university,’ in the truest sense of that word.” Dreger, a bioethics professor at Northwestern’s Feinberg School of Medicine and guest editor of the faculty-produced publication Atrium, fought with […]

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  • Noted Author Resigns From Northwestern In Censorship Protest

    August 25, 2015

    By Tyler Kingkade at The Huffington Post 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 […]

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  • 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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  • Sexorship at Northwestern?

    June 17, 2015

    By Colleen Flaherty at Inside Higher Ed It was there and then it wasn’t: a controversial issue of a Northwestern University bioethics journal about sex and disability featuring one scholar’s account of receiving oral sex from a nurse as part of his rehabilitative process. Did Northwestern demand the removal of the journal essay from the university’s website and threaten to review all forthcoming issues prior to publication? That’s what faculty members claims happened last year. Northwestern, meanwhile, acknowledges that the archive issue of the journal was taken down, but isn’t saying why, or why it was later restored. The controversy […]

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  • It’s Not Just Kipnis: Northwestern Censored Another Prof Over Mildly Provocative Sex Views

    June 16, 2015

    By Robby Soave at Reason Online Northwestern University’s squeamishness is only surpassed by its lack of respect for academic freedom, it seems. While the federally-mandated Title IX inquisition against Media Professor Laura Kipnis grabbed more national attention, Northwestern’s campaign of censorship against a faculty-produced bioethics journal is equally disturbing. The journal, Atrium, has always been produced without administrative oversight. Its February 2014 issue featured a “Bad Girls” theme and a slightly provocative cover. It also contained an essay by Syracuse University Professor William Peace, who described being paralyzed as a young man and receiving oral sex from a hospital nurse, […]

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  • NU Professor Starts Academic Debate with Controversial Essay on Sex

    June 10, 2015

    By Lisa Black at Chicago Tribune NU professor‘s essay fuels debate over faculty-student sexual relationships. A Northwestern University professor who wrote a controversial essay on how colleges police faculty-student relationships sparked a national debate over academic and sexual freedom. In doing so, she found herself the subject of an investigation into gender discrimination — one of the very issues she was writing about — after two students complained that she had created a “chilling effect” on their ability to report sexual misconduct. Communications professor Laura Kipnis recently was investigated for complaints that she violated the federal Title IX law against […]

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  • Blame the Federal Government for Making College Awful

    June 7, 2015

    By Robby Soave at Reason Online Developments over the last few weeks have brought a lot of attention to the sorry state of the American college campus.This essay in Vox, the ordeals of Laura Kipnis, and the usual spate of college outrage stories provoked condemnations from a diverse range of media commentators. It’s nice that everybody is so upset, but as I explained in arecent column for The Daily Beast, defeating campus censorship will take a lot more than winning hearts and minds. That’s because the policies of a runaway federal agency—the Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights, under the […]

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  • Campus Censorship is The Feds’ Fault

    June 6, 2015

    By Robby Soave at The Daily Beast How obscure federal bureaucrats are squashing free expression on college campuses. A candid admission from an anonymous academic in Vox—“I’m a liberal professor, and my liberal students terrify me”—has higher ed spectators on all sides of the ideological spectrum concerned that students’ increasing aversion to offended-ness is forcing academics to dumb down their courses. But while just about everybody agrees there’s a problem, sheer outrage is incapable of solving it. That’s because federal bureaucrats have declared war on campus free speech and universities would be crazy to defy them, short of a Congressional […]

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  • The PC Revolution is Eating its Own, but What Sort of Shit Comes Next?

    June 5, 2015

    By Nick Gillespie at Reason Online There are many signs that the high tide of political correctness on college campuses is cresting. The scandal surrounding the treatment of Northwestern’s Laura Kipnis, a feminist professor of journalism who got into hot water for writing about her sexual activity in The Chronicle of Higher Education, has erupted into a full-scale what-the-fuck-is-wrong-with-today’s-puritanical-and-easily-offended students fury. Offended students filed a Title IX complaint against Kipnis, charging that her work created a “chilling effect.” Investigators found the complaint without merit, a decision widely hailed by anti-PC observers. Even writers at Jezebel, who are often quick to […]

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  • The Laura Kipnis Saga: Privacy Paranoia Runs Amok Once More On Campus

    June 2, 2015

    By Greg Piper at The College Fix You may have seen that an ex-FIFA official recently cited an article inThe Onion – an obviously satirical publication – to defend himself against corruption charges. Well, I got snookered too, by a very clever “leaked” email purportedly obtained by the law blog Popehat. It claimed to have been sent to Northwestern University faculty by the Title IX coordinator, who was responding to Professor Laura Kipnis’s Chronicle of Higher Education essay in February decrying “sexual paranoia” on American college campuses (specifically professor-student relationships), and Kipnis’s followup essay Friday about the Title IX “inquisition” against her for writing that essay. Because there’s a lot […]

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  • How Laura Kipnis’ ‘Sexual Paranoia’ Essay Caused A Frenzy At Northwestern University

    May 31, 2015

    By Tyler Kingkade at The Huffington Post Northwestern University film professor Laura Kipnis was cleared in a Title IX investigation by the university on Friday, following graduate student complaints over an essay she published in February in the Chronicle of Higher Education. The article, titled “Sexual Paranoia Strikes Academe,” discussed university policies governing sexual misconduct, student-faculty relationships and speech on campuses. It described lawsuits between a Northwestern philosophy professor and two students who accused him of sexual assault. Students took issue with the piece, saying Kipnis was describing a real-life scenarioand that her facts were off. They accused Kipnis of […]

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  • Coaches blow whistle on athlete indiscretions on networking sites

    July 16, 2006

    Before DeMarcus Dobbs plays a game at Georgia, we know this much: He has 271 friends. He was at Whitney’s for a party over Memorial Day weekend. (But he doesn’t drink or smoke.) He broke Jake the Snake’s nose. (But it was Justin’s fault.) He has a girl named Anna who will always love him despite the paint handprint he put on her shirt. And he’d better bring his money next time he sees Bobby “cuz it’s on.” Welcome to the online social networking/self-profiling world of MySpace.com, Facebook.com and dozens of similar Internet sites.   That emerging world has started […]

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  • Colleges learning a tough lesson

    June 1, 2006

    Luke Daquino, a former University at Albany lacrosse player, said he never understood why today’s students bare their souls on the Internet. The growing popularity of Web sites such as http://www.myspace.com, http://www.facebook.com and http://www.webshots.com allow the college crowd to share personal information and photographs all over the country. “None of that stuff for me,” said Daquino, who graduated last year. “You put way too much stuff on there, you get yourself in trouble. Especially in college, people put pictures of everything that goes on, and they go everywhere.” Some colleges are finding that out the hard way. Photos of alleged […]

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  • Objectivists cited with misconduct

    November 20, 2003

    By Sarah Halasaz and Alison Knezevich at The Daily Northwestern Associated Student Government senators voted to adjourn halfway through the group’s agenda at its weekly meeting Wednesday night after spending nearly three hours discussing misconduct recommendations. The Senate ultimately voted to uphold financial- and group-misconduct recommendations against the Objectivist Club for involvement in an anti-affirmative action bake sale Oct. 31. As a result the ASG-recognized group must schedule all programming and meeting places Winter Quarter through ASG’s Executive Committee. In addition, the group cannot use its Student Organization Finance Office account to fund events. The Executive Committee report charged the […]

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  • Bake sale broaches admission standards

    November 3, 2003

    By Dalia Naamani-Goldman at The Daily Northwestern Affirmative action event shut down; probes to see if groups violated policies The discount didn’t last long for minority students Friday. After making $31 in 2 1/2 hours, an affirmative action bake sale was shut down by a university administrator when she realized the event was not just a moneymaking endeavor. The bake sale, advertised as sponsored by the College Republicans and the Objectivist Club, was one of several sales that have been broken up by university administrators at campuses across the country such as Southern Methodist University in Texas and at the University […]

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  • Thought Reform 101

    March 1, 2000

    At Wake Forest University last fall, one of the few events designated as “mandatory” for freshman orientation was attendance at Blue Eyed, a filmed racism awareness workshop in which whites are abused, ridiculed, made to fail, and taught helpless passivity so that they can identify with “a person of color for a day.” In Swarthmore College’s dormitories, in the fall of 1998, first-year students were asked to line up by skin color, from lightest to darkest, and to step forward and talk about how they felt concerning their place in that line. Indeed, at almost all of our campuses, some […]

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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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  • FIRE’s Statement on Northwestern’s Lengthy, Unwarranted Title IX Investigation of Laura Kipnis

    June 1, 2015

    On Friday evening, Northwestern University finally cleared Professor Laura Kipnis of wrongdoing after a 72-day investigation into her public writing and comments about sexual politics on campus. The lengthy investigation was launched by the university’s Title IX Coordinator after two students filed complaints alleging that Kipnis’s essay published in The Chronicle of Higher Education discussing already-public details about sexual harassment investigations and lawsuits at Northwestern constituted “retaliation” and “chilled” students’ willingness to report harassment. As we at the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) detailed on Friday, Kipnis exposed the investigation and the university’s unfair treatment towards her in […]

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  • Laura Kipnis’s ‘Title IX Inquisition’ Reveals Absurdity of the Current Campus Climate

    May 29, 2015

    There are far too many true stories of universities investigating, punishing, or censoring discussions on matters of public concern. But among them, the ordeal that Northwestern University professor Laura Kipnis has endured because of an article she wrote about sex-related issues on campus stands as one of the most ironic and perplexing. She shares all the absurd details in an article for The Chronicle of Higher Education today, and it is a must-read. In late February, Kipnis prompted a heated debate with an essay she penned for The Chronicle of Higher Education titled “Sexual Paranoia Strikes Academe.” The article addressed […]

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  • Duke Recognizes Prof’s Freedom of Speech on Racial Issues

    May 18, 2015

    Duke University professor Jerry Hough has faced criticism in recent days following his comment on a New York Times editorial published on May 10 that some readers characterized as racist. FIRE is glad to see that—despite another race-related controversy just last month—Duke has apparently not taken action against Hough. But the university still seems not to appreciate how open discourse should function on campus. Hough posted his comment in response to a Times editorial titled “How Racism Doomed Baltimore.” He wrote, in part: In 1965 the Asians were discriminated against as least as badly as blacks. That was reflected in […]

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  • FIRE’s Shibley on the ‘Offendedness Sweepstakes’ This Halloween Season

    October 30, 2014

    It’s almost Halloween, and that means that college students across the country are waging war against costumes that they deem culturally insensitive or otherwise offensive. In an article for The Daily Caller today, FIRE Senior Vice President Robert Shibley takes a look at some of the party themes that have been landing college and university students in trouble lately. Robert leads with a jaw-dropping example: Northwestern University students are under fire for holding a “Jail N’ Bail”-themed literacy fundraiser with no apparent racial content because it “belittled” the problems faced by racial minorities and the poor. It’s one thing for […]

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  • Halloween Costume E-Mail Surfaces Deeper Concerns about Freedom of Speech at Northwestern University

    November 3, 2010

    Last week, Northwestern University Dean of Students Burgwell J. Howard and other university actors sent an e-mail to the Northwestern community encouraging students to display sensitivity in their Halloween costume choices. This e-mail was a reaction to the outrage sparked by two white students dressing up in “blackface” last year. Howard provided students with guidelines to determine if their costume is “insensitive.” Wearing a funny costume? Is the humor based on “making fun” of real people, human traits or cultures? Wearing a historical costume? If this costume is meant to be historical, does it further misinformation or historical and cultural […]

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  • The State of Free Speech on Campus: Northwestern University

    April 13, 2009

    Throughout the spring semester, FIRE is drawing special attention to the state of free speech at America’s top 25 national universities (as ranked by U.S. News & World Report). Today we review policies at Northwestern University, which FIRE has given a red-light rating for maintaining policies that clearly and substantially restrict free expression on campus. As with all private universities—which are not bound by the First Amendment, but are bound by the promises they make to students and faculty—we begin by examining the commitments Northwestern has made to free speech. Northwestern’s student handbook provides that students have the right “to […]

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