Melissa Click, the University of Missouri professor who attempted to bar a student journalist from a campus protest last November—and in turn opened a worldwide discourse on free speech, the right to protest, and the boundaries of both—has been fired from her position at the school.
Click, an associate professor of communications, was catapulted into the public sphere after trying to ward of a gaggle of journalists who were attempting to cover a campus protest on November 9. When a videographer identified himself as a member of the press, Click attempted to protect the students by ordering him to leave. She then grabbed the camera and called out to other protesters, “Hey, who wants to help me get this reporter out of here? I need some muscle over here.”
The incident, which was recorded by the student and posted on the Internet, went viral.
Soon after, it was discovered that a similar event had occurred a month prior at the university’s homecoming parade; the incident had involved an encounter with police officers over protesters.
Unfortunately, the incident turned media attention away from the source of the protests—documented incidents of racism perpetrated by students that had occurred on campus as far back as 2010—and towards Click, whose actions were “held up by conservatives as a symbol for intolerance in academia,” as the New York Times wrote.
Members of Mizzou’s board of curators announced their decision on Thursday, February 25.
“The board respects Dr. Click’s right to express her views and does not base this decision on her support for students engaged in protest or their views,” said board member Pam Henrickson in and official statement. She continued:
“However, Dr. Click was not entitled to interfere with the rights of others, to confront members of law enforcement or to encourage potential physical intimidation against a student. [...] “The circumstances surrounding Click’s behavior, both at a protest in October when she tried to interfere with police officers who were carrying out their duties, and at a rally in November, when she interfered with members of the media and students who were exercising their rights in a public space and called for intimidation against one of our students, we believe demands serious action.”
Henrickson also added that Click has “the right to appeal her termination.”
Click was charged with third-degree assault last month; after agreeing to community service for probation, the charges were dropped. The professor was subsequently suspended by the university pending an investigation to “allow due process to play out,” said Mizzou Chancellor Hank Foley at the time, also asserting that there would be no hasty decision made regarding the status of Click’s employment or tenure.
It was also Foley who declared “[Click’s] actions in October and November are those that directly violate the core values of our university” in a statement released by his own office this afternoon.
As of now, Click has not publicly commented on the university’s termination.
Image via Associated Press.
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