Northwestern University has lifted a ban on Jacqueline Stevens (right), a professor of political science there, teaching and working on campus. But the university is demanding that she change her teaching in some ways and her conduct in interacting with her faculty colleagues. Further, the university moved her office away from her colleagues in political science. The university banned her from campus over the summer, saying that her presence raised safety concerns for some colleagues. Stevens has maintained that she is being punished for being highly critical of the Northwestern administration.
The case has attracted considerable attention because Stevens has in fact been a critic of the administration, and many professors are skeptical when prominent campus critics face potential disciplinary action against them. However, some faculty members at Northwestern strongly dispute the idea that she is being punished for her politics, and say she has created problems in her department.
Northwestern has not commented directly on the situation. But Stevens on Tuesday released a letter she received Monday from Adrian Randolph, dean of arts and sciences. In the letter, Randolph said that the university is considering "disciplinary procedures" against Stevens. With regard to teaching, Randolph cited complaints from graduate students. With regard to her colleagues, Randolph said she has demonstrated "a lack of civility" and engaged in "the bullying of junior colleagues, staff and students."
In a new post on the website where she has shared news about her situation, Stevens said that Northwestern is engaged in a "tactical retreat" by letting her return to campus. The post criticized the administration's characterizations of her interactions on campus. She noted the many letters from former students and others that have been sent to Northwestern on her behalf, and she said that she does not engage in the bullying of which she is accused. "I engage in critical inquiries and discussion, but it is never personalized," she wrote.
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