Melissa Click may not know it, but since being fired by the University of Missouri she’s already taken up another important role: unintentional destroyer of college campuses’ PC edifice.
Americans first met Assistant Professor Click in video clips taken last year during the campus protests roiling Mizzou. In one, Click called for some “muscle” to remove a journalist attempting to cover the protest. Another showed Click cursing at police officers.
The university’s Board of Curators voted to fire her, carefully noting that it wasn’t due to her views or support for the protestors, but because she wasn’t supposed to “interfere with the rights of others, to confront members of law enforcement or to encourage potential physical intimidation against a student.”
That’s a pretty low bar for employment at a state university.
Yet Click has a point when she says she alone is being singled out for punishment. She contends: “I’m not a superhero . . . I wasn’t in charge.” True: she wasn’t. She simply had the misfortune of being caught on camera.
Click may be too modest, however, and is overlooking her superhero-like ability to embody everything that’s wrong with campus culture. Her video clip, like Batman’s emblem in the sky, ought to be enough to stir Americans — even those in power in higher education — into action to demand overdue campus reform, if we’re paying attention.
Start with Click’s gymnastics on the issue of racial politics. Click was involved with protests stemming from anger over the events in Ferguson, Mo., where 18-year-old Michael Brown was fatally shot by police officers.
Student protesters cited a handful of alleged racially charged incidents — swastika graffiti, the use of the N-word — to charge that the school was also a hotbed of racial injustice.
They called on University President Tim Wolfe to resign, and he did, capitulating to the students’ demands, which were egged on by activist professors like Click.
Click now claims her own dismissal is racially charged, meant to send a message that blacks aren’t supposed to stand up against whites. Yet she also notes that being “a white lady” makes her an “easy target.”
In other words, Click believes that although bigotry pervades the university’s liberal halls, administrators are too cowed to fire anyone who isn’t white, making her supposed white privilege also her biggest handicap.
Click is suing the school for allegedly failing to follow the rules governing firings in cases like hers. Her charge may have merit. But where was Click when Wolfe was being similarly sacrificed for political expedience?
If Click is serious about raising awareness about the unfair, quasi-judicial proceedings that pass for justice at American universities, perhaps she could lead a class-action suit with all the students — particularly men — who have been subjected to sexual-assault tribunals or tossed out over dubious Title IX violations for creating a “hostile” environment.
Click is now looking for a new gig in academia. Like too many alumni today, she’s qualified for little else. During her many years of schooling, she garnered degrees in Advanced Feminist Studies and studied the feminist implications of Martha Stewart, “50 Shades of Grey” and “Twilight.”
That’s a tough résumé to have in this job market. Yet Click can take comfort that she’s in good company with the many students who saddled themselves with tens of thousands of dollars in student-loan debt to attend classes like hers: In fact, about half of all recent college grads are working in jobs that don’t actually require a college degree.
It’s long been evident that something is seriously wrong with American higher education, but Click’s case ties key pieces of the puzzle together: the absurdity of the racial- and gender-grievance game on college campuses, the politically motivated inquisitions that serve as university justice and the increasingly useless nature of so much of what’s studied.
American campuses need a heroic overhaul if they’re going to prepare the next generation to be citizens and leaders in the real world. That’ll require real academic freedom and open debate — which won’t include safe spaces — as well as rigorous academic standards that require students to actually study and learn.
The challenge is huge, and the stakes are high. Good thing a superhero like Melissa Click is showing the way.
Carrie Lukas is the managing director of the Independent Women’s Forum.