Alice Dreger Speaks Out about Censorship and the Branding of Higher Education

Former Northwestern professor Alice Dreger spoke in Evanston on Sept. 30, a month after resigning from her position in the medical school to protest censorship of the medical journal Atrium after she was guest editor of the “Bad Girls” issue.

Dreger told an audience at Bookends and Beginnings bookstore that Northwestern administrators had removed the issue from its website because of its controversial content, and then created what she called a “censorship committee” to monitor future articles, causing the journal’s editors to cease their work. After more than a year of trying to get Northwestern to change its position, Dreger decided to go public: “I am not good at keeping mouth shut.”

Dreger said, “this is a really worrisome case” because Northwestern administrators made “explicit reference to a brand” to justify their decision, citing a branding agreement between Northwestern University and the corporate-owned Northwestern hospital. Dreger noted, “I don’t think you can have academic freedom and a brand together.”

Dreger noted that the paperback edition of the book next year would update her bio to remove her Northwestern affiliation and add an epilogue about her resignation. “My experience at Northwestern made this book possible,” she said: “it should have Northwestern’s name on it.”

Dreger said, “it is sad to lose my students, my colleagues.”

Dreger will also be speaking about her book, Galileo’s Middle Finger: Heretics, Activists, and the Search for Justice in Science, on Thurs. Oct. 1, at 6pm at Barnes & Noble at DePaul University, 1 E. Jackson.

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