A Northwestern University professor has resigned her post in protest over the school’s censorship of a story involving hospital nurses who administer oral sex to handicapped patients.
Alice Dreger, a bioethics professor at the Feinberg School of Medicine, says she can no longer tolerate working at an institution where her dean is allowed to censor professors to protect the school’s image.
The saga began in 2014, when Northwestern’s bioethics journal, Atrium, published an issue titled “Bad Girls” which focused on the intersection between disabilities and sexuality. One article in the issue was titled “Head Nurses.” The piece, by Syracuse University professor William Peace, discussed his experience after being paralyzed in an accident several decades ago. Peace recounted in a positive manner his experience of receiving oral sex from a “head nurse” at the hospital, an experience he said “reaffirmed my manhood and masculinity in a way I will forever appreciate.” (RELATED: Prof’s Tale Of Sexy Nurse Sparks Huge Censorship Fight)
Northwestern administrators apparently decided that having a journal luridly extol the virtues of medicinal oral sex would not be good for its reputation, and so that issue of Atrium was censored, with Peace’s article removed from the journal’s website. Not only that, but the school decided to create a new editorial committee responsible for approving Atrium’s content going forward, to prevent similar missteps in the future. Instead of acquiescing, faculty decided to stop publishing Atrium entirely.
Dreger was the guest editor of the issue in question, and swiftly lodged a complaint over the school’s action against academic freedom. The dispute took place entirely out of the public eye for over a year, until Dreger says she threatened to go public with the dispute. The school quickly put “Head Nurses” back on Atrium’s website, but Dreger says she went public anyway out of disgust at the school’s actions.
In a letter of resignation published online, Dreger says she chose to quit because Northwestern will not admit it engaged in censorship and will not pledge to refrain from any such censorship in the future.
“I spent over a year thinking about resigning because of the problem of being asked to work for a dean who was allowed to censor my work if it upset him or the hospital,” she wrote on her blog. “I tried again and again to get Northwestern to quietly fix the problem internally … I am disappointed I was unable to talk them into doing the right thing.”
Northwestern spokesman Alan Cubbage told The Chicago Tribune that the school had not comment on Dreger’s departure, as it was a personal matter.
Northwestern has had to endure multiple censorship-related controversies in the past year. Last May, Professor Laura Kipnis published a piece in the Chronicle of Higher Education discussing the “inquisition” she endured after two students complained that an article she wrote violated the federal Title IX law by creating a “hostile environment” on campus.
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