Old Dominion University: Professor Placed on Leave for Controversial Statements; Student Protesters’ Calls for Prof’s Firing Painted Over


Old Dominion University

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Case Overview

FIRE Victory closed

In November 2021, an interview of Old Dominion University Prof. Allyn Walker went viral due to public objections to Walker’s research and commentary on “Minor-Attracted Persons,” a term used by some researchers, including Walker, to refer to people who have (but do not act upon) an attraction to minors. The university placed Walker on leave, citing threats of violence and disruption to campus, leading FIRE’s Faculty Legal Defense Fund to provide Walker with free legal counsel. On November 17, FIRE also wrote to Old Dominion out of concern for reports that the university erased student messages calling for Walker’s termination, explaining that the First Amendment protects both Walker and the students. (The university responded by claiming that an unidentified “student” erased painted messages on a rock “managed exclusively” by the student government.) On November 24, Walker and Old Dominion issued a joint statement announcing Walker will leave the university in May.