Alas, my alma mater continues to be an embarrassing eyesore. My former thesis committee member has become an unjustified yet unsurprisingly divisive figure in Mizzou’s campus uprising. Perhaps you’ve heard of her — Melissa Click. She was caught assaulting and calling for “muscle” to expel student Mark Schierbecker (around 07:10) for violating the protesters’ “safe space” by filming their revolt on the south end of the Francis Quadrangle, i.e. public property. Well, despite such illicit behavior, she survived and retains — for the moment — a salary funded on the tax-payer dime, no less. Now, new footage from a Columbia police officer’s body cam reveals further conduct unbecoming of a university professor.
She’s been suspended and banned from campus, and there have been calls for due process for her. Fair enough. Unfortunately, in the same story, there’s too many apologists who say Click’s been unfairly hung in the court of public opinion, thusly tainting said due process, and others who insist she’s done nothing wrong that merits investigation.
At least former dean of the journalism school, Brian Brooks, has his head on straight:
…I would expect a professor of communication to understand the First Amendment, which, after all, is the bedrock principle upon which all public communication in the United States is based. That brings us to Dr. Click, an assistant professor of communication. She has agreed with the prosecutor that her actions constituted assault against one of those students and agreed to perform 20 hours of community service as punishment.
In my view, she got off light. She could have been charged with battery for grabbing the student’s camera lens and trying to force it away. Her actions also constituted a violation of the students’ civil rights because they had every right to be filming in a public place. That is a well-established right in U.S. case law, which uses the U.S. Constitution as its basis.
It also should be noted that the law provides no special protection for the press. These rights are accorded to all citizens, and when someone interferes with a civil right, that is an affront to all citizens, not just the press.
So, Dr. Click is fortunate she has not yet been charged with a federal violation of the Civil Rights Act. There is clearly a basis to do so.
That…is why the School of Journalism faculty acted with alarm in the aftermath of Nov. 9. Journalists understand the First Amendment, which you apparently do not. So the “huge outcry” of the journalism faculty that you describe was fully warranted and justified.
Dr. Click’s actions in interfering with police officers doing their jobs, and the language she used while doing so, were deplorable. She easily could have been charged with interfering with police officers acting in the line of duty. Dr. Click seems to have a tendency in high-stress situations to react by committing crimes.
Is that the type of individual we want teaching students at the University of Missouri? I think not, and I am appalled that so many faculty members, most of them in the College of Arts and Science, appear to be supporting Dr. Click after her deplorable behavior on two separate occasions.
Dr. Click has made the University of Missouri the laughingstock of the entire country. She also has severely hurt the cause of the students she sought to support. By acting in a shrill and inappropriate manner, she caused many outsiders to cast a critical eye at the very protesters she was “protecting.”
For the record, it’s not that Brooks doesn’t believe in second chances. When he was dean, I’ve met the man to explain why I failed to turn in an electronic assignment that prevented me from passing a prerequisite class. His understanding, lenience and executive autograph permitted me to continue my journalism education. I remain grateful.
Digression aside, it’s paramount to note the progressive double standard here too. Tim Wolfe was chased out of town for being too “privileged” and therefore racially insensitive to the feelings of minority students. The only substantiation of his culpability in this regard was just the mere assertions from ideologue activists. On the other hand, we have two incidents of criminality and gross professional wrongdoing in fact clearly captured on camera that have been immortalized online. Yet, it’s Click who has defenders and allies. Where were the rationalizations and faculty intercession for due process on Wolfe’s behalf during last semester? There wasn’t even crickets but a mob intent on taking his head.
Anyway, the Mizzou circus goes on.
So must I,