Petition update

Joint Statement from Old Dominion University and Allyn Walker

Elliot Porter
United States

Nov 24, 2021 — 

On November 24th, Old Dominion University released a statement announcing that Professor Allyn Walker would remain on leave until the expiration of their contract in May 2022, at which point they would be stepping down from their position as assistant professor of sociology and criminal justice. This came shortly after over five dozen researchers and clinicians in the fields of sexual abuse prevention, mental health, human sexuality, and criminology shared an open letter to the university in support of Professor Walker and their research.

By removing Professor Walker from their position, Old Dominion University has made it clear that they consider their public image more important than academic freedom and the safety and wellbeing of children. They have shown an unwillingness to stand by their own employees in the face of misinformation, stigma, and hate. Furthermore, they have ignored the input child protection experts, as well as several of their own students and alumni, in favor of optics.

Though it was written before this decision was announced, the open letter described earlier explains how such a move would (and now does) allow misinformation to triumph over research conducted by those dedicated to protecting children. How can we expect those who dedicate their careers to protecting children to continue their vital work when academic institutions abandon them at the first sign of pushback from an uneducated mob?

Though we may not be able to fulfill the original intent of this petition, I believe we have succeeded in sending an important message: attempts to infringe on academic freedom, to allow stigma and hate to control and censor research, or to prioritize the feelings of individuals over the safety of children will be met with pushback. This petition will remain up as a reminder that there will always be people who stand with science against misinformation. Please continue signing and sharing to ensure this can never be forgotten.

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