No, it turns out not to be a really good idea for a professor to shout, “I need some muscle here!” in order to get rid of a student trying to take photos of a demonstration in a public place on campus.
Or to try to block the police when they’re trying to clear a roadway of demonstrators trying to disrupt a campus homecoming parade:A University of Missouri professor whose shout of “I need some muscle over here,” to remove a student journalist from a demonstration sparked an international debate over the limits of protest and a free press, has been fired, the university announced Thursday.
Melissa Click, an assistant professor of communications, was captured on video on Nov. 9 trying, with dozens of others allied with the protesters, to prevent photographers from approaching the protesters’ encampment on the flagship campus in Columbia. When a young man making a video recording identified himself as a journalist, she told him to leave, grabbed at his camera and called out, “Hey, who wants to help me get this reporter out of here? I need some muscle over here.”
Later, it emerged that she had been involved in a confrontation with the police in October, along with students who were trying to block a homecoming parade.
The university’s governing body, the Board of Curators, began an investigation, and suspended her last month. The board voted Wednesday night to dismiss her — a decision it said she could appeal.
“The board believes that Dr. Click’s conduct was not compatible with university policies and did not meet expectations for a university faculty member,” Pam Henrickson, the board chairwoman, said in a statement released Thursday. “The circumstances surrounding Dr. 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.”
What’s fascinating about the Click affair is that although her behavior looked appalling and unprofessional to outsiders, not a single one of her fellow faculty members at Mizzou was willing to take her to task.
The Chronicle of Higher Education reports:
Faculty leaders at the university were upset by the board’s decision to take Ms. Click’s fate into its own hands. In a letter last month, the Faculty Council on the flagship campus asked the board to back off and let the university judge Ms. Click’s actions according to a procedure, spelled out in its bylaws, that was designed to "protect the rights of accused faculty while also protecting the university’s interest in identifying and responding to faculty irresponsibility."
Faculty leaders on the university system’s other campuses this week endorsed that position. The American Association of University Professors has also weighed in, expressing concern that Ms. Click was being denied due process.
Henry F. (Hank) Reichman, a professor emeritus of history at California State University-East Bay and chairman of the AAUP’s Committee A on Academic Freedom and Tenure, said in a post on the association’s Academe blog that the board’s decision "makes a sham of shared governance and due process." He said Ms. Click had "clearly been made a scapegoat, and the actions of the board and interim chancellor are shameful."
But no one on the campus filed a complaint against the professor, Ms. Henrickson said, a step that would have triggered the university’s own procedures. "No one took the opportunity to avail themselves of that process," she said, so the board began its own.
Well, gee, Mizzou faculty. You can’t have it both ways. You can’t look the other way when one of your colleagues behaves not only unbecomingly but in ways that threatens university safety and your own students’ free-press rights—and then whine when the university administration takes the matter into its own hands. Melissa Click did her deeds in October and November of 2015, and it’s now February 2015. If a few of you had had the courage or ethical sense to actually instigate an investigation of Click’s behavior that would protect what you say are her “due process” rights, the board wouldn’t have had to act. “Shared governance” is a two-way street.