‘We’re trying to get Dr. Walker back on campus’

Walker’s fate to be decided after Thanksgiving break


Photo by Tess Riecke

Michael Bogner, Susan Westerhaus, Faith Sheldon, Nathan Neary, Ciera Afrank and professor Mark Leeper were among the group of protesters that stood outside for seven hours in support of dismissed professor Dr. Karen Walker.

Derek Pufahl, Staff Writer

Seven hours of protest took place on Wayne State College’s campus last Thursday.

Supporters of dismissed faculty member Dr. Karen Walker stood in protest from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. outside the Kanter Student Center.

The protest was organized by a group of students who are standing in solidarity and support for Walker, who has been dismissed of her teaching post and is currently in the process of appealing.

Protesters held up signs in an attempt to turn the heads of Nebraska State College System (NSCS) Board of Trustees members, who had gathered on campus for their regular board meeting. Many of the NSCS committee meetings were held throughout the day on Thursday in the Kanter Student Center.

Protesters said that one such head was that of NSCS Chancellor Stan Carpenter, who told them that they are being noticed.

Carpenter said that he himself was a protester of the Vietnam War when he was in college.

“Protesting is a rich tradition,” Carpenter said on Friday. “I admire their passion, and I appreciate the way that they did it—in a respectful and appropriate manner.”

“What we’re trying to do is get the attention of the board of trustees. They’re instrumental in this,” said Nate Neary, a political science major who headed the protest. “We want to make them aware that students really do care. We’re trying to get Dr. Walker back on campus.”

Walker’s dismissal is still under appeal in accordance with the SCEA union contract, but if the appeal is ultimately rejected by WSC president Marysz Rames, then Walker could further make an appeal to the NSCS board of trustees.

Protesters proudly held handmade signs with a variety of phrases written on them, such as: “If Walker can’t raise her voice, we will!”; “Educators like Dr. Walker enhance spiritual direction…She is not an educator we want to lose”; “We asked for a change on campus, not in the classroom. Bring back Karen Walker!” as well as a quotation of John G. Neihardt’s from his 1921 Poet Laureate address, which read: “It must be remembered that education is not an end, but rather and endless process. A manner of becoming a spiritual direction.”

At one point in the day, two WSC faculty members reportedly walked by the group and told protesters, “What you’re doing isn’t making a difference” and “This is a process, and you need to respect it.”
“It was really unprofessional,” Neary said.

“It was disappointing to have familiar professors tell us that our cause doesn’t matter and that we shouldn’t have a say in campus matters,” psychology major Ciera Afrank said.

Protesters stood in hour-long shifts, giving each other breaks as needed so they could eat and attend class. The number of protesters present shifted throughout the day, ranging anywhere from 4 to 14.
Miss Molly’s Coffee Company of Wayne provided hot chocolate to help combat the crisp November air.

The date for Walker’s hearing before President Rames and the recently formed dismissal advisory committee still hasn’t been fixed yet and continues to be pushed further down the calendar.

Walker’s husband and political science professor Dr. Mark Leeper told supporters that it should take place sometime after Thanksgiving, between Nov. 30 and Dec. 2, but it could be as late as Dec. 8.