ODU chapter of national organization publishes letter sharing concern of professor stepping down over controversial interview

Old Dominion University Police investigate third case of sexual assault this semester
Posted at 9:31 AM, Dec 03, 2021

NORFOLK, Va. - Last week, Dr. Allyn Walker, an Old Dominion University assistant professor who came under fire following a controversial interview where they defended non-offending pedophiles, announced they will step down from their position when the contract expires in May 2022.

Walker, an assistant professor of sociology and criminal justice, will remain on leave until that time.

In an interview with the Prostasia Foundation regarding their book, "A Long Dark Shadow: Minor-Attracted People and Their Pursuit of Dignity," Walker concluded that it is "never OK to abuse a child," but argued that there is no morality attached to attraction towards children as long as it isn't acted on.

Walker's comments garnered nationwide attention, and they were put on leave after reactions to their research and book led to concerns for both their and the campus' safety.

Now, the ODU chapter of the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) has released an open letter citing concerns about the events that lead to Dr. Walker stepping down.

In the letter, the ODU chapter said, "We are writing this open letter to publicly share our concerns pertaining to the events leading up to the joint decision between Old Dominion University and Dr. Allyn Walker to have Dr. Walker step down from their position as Assistant Professor of Sociology and Criminal Justice. We lament the loss of our dear colleague and call for explicit and immediate improvements in communication, due process, and protections of academic freedom by the administration leading Old Dominion University."

The letter goes on to list the timeline of events starting when Dr. Walker shared a detailed memo that outlines how Dr. Walker’s book could be misconstrued and that provides talking points to refute any misconceptions. The timeline ends with The Office of Academic Affairs sending a message to all faculty (see Appendix C) articulating their vision of academic freedom and its scope. "There are other key events involved in the precipitation of the most recent joint decision announced on November 24th, but these moments are the most critical from our perspective," the AAUP said.

Under a portion of the letter labeled "Due Process," the ODU chapter of the AAUP said, "Old Dominion faculty, staff, and students—along with the public—have much work to do in ensuring that we all create the safe conditions for the pursuit of academic freedom and explain its value to the communities our institutions serve. A critical component to maintaining academic freedom is due process. Without transparent due process, commitments to hiring and retaining diverse faculty and supporting controversial social justice research that appear in the “ONE Virginia Strategic Plan for Inclusive Excellence,” signed by President Hemphill in the summer of 2021, will continue to be jeopardized."

Related: Dr. Allyn Walker to step down from ODU after controversial interview defending people attracted to children