As the school and work week kicked off, Old Dominion continued to find itself mired in a controversy over the recently published book, A Long Dark Shadow, written by Allyn Walker, Assistant Professor of Sociology and Criminal Justice.
On Tuesday, November 16, following a protest on Kaufman Mall, ODU President Brian Hemphill issued a statement that Walker has been placed on administrative leave. During the peaceful protest on campus, with some calling for Walker to be fired, notes were chalked on campus sidewalks and some even painted the Spirit Rock to make their voices heard.
About 75 students showed up to make their discomfort known. Some students, parents and alumni believe that Walker’s book seeks to legitimize pedophilia, which Walker calls “minor attraction.”
Students came out in ODU apparel, brought signs and gave brief speeches on microphones in front of a few official cameras and dozens of smartphones. As the sun went down, students began to march around campus, yelling chants that called for the removal of Walker and the protection of children. But soon they dispersed.
In President Hemphill’s statement, which is significantly longer than the one the University previously released, Hemphill stressed that, “It is important to call pedophilia what it is…”
“I am confident that our Monarch family will rise to the occasion in our continuing campus dialogue,” continued Hemphill, “And I am equally confident that we share a common starting point for the discussion: rejection of any form of sexual abuse of children.”
While there are still rumblings of concern and disappointment in the University coming from social media, the protest and statement made today are the beginnings of a necessary discussion on where the limits of academic freedom and research must be drawn.