Scholarship News

Mizzou Protests, First Amendment Rights and Melissa Click's "Muscle"


January 7, 2016
by Jess Hanch
Recently Professor Melissa Click was caught on video pushing a student reporter's camera aside during a campus protest. After the incident, state lawmakers called for the professor to be fired due to her treatment of the student journalists after the student who shot the footage filed a complaint with campus police after the incident. Nearly a month later, more than 100 faculty letters were released defending Professor Click and her mistake.

Recently Professor Melissa Click was caught on video pushing a student reporter's camera aside during a campus protest. After the incident, state lawmakers called for the professor to be fired due to her "treatment of the student journalists" after the student who shot the footage filed a complaint with campus police after the incident. Nearly a month later, more than 100 faculty letters were released defending Professor Click and her "mistake".

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According to the Chronicle of Higher Education, Click grabbed student Mark Schierbecker's camera and asked for "some muscle" to limit the [student's] coverage of the protest at the University of Missouri. Schierbecker was filming student photographer Tim Tai who was also covering the event. Shortly after the incident, Schierbecker filed a complaint with campus police looking to press legal assault charges. He specifically told reporters "I pressed charges against Melissa Click [but] the Journalism school just filed a formal complaint with the Title IX office about her". The University of Missouri’s police department stated that they are looking into the situation and will follow up with the complaint.

On top of the possible assault charge, Click received hundreds of threatening emails about the event prompting her recent decision to resign. She also issued an apology to the journalists involved in the incident, as well as the University’s department of journalism. The two students had very different responses to her outreach. USA Today reported that Schierbecker found her apology "lacking", telling reporters he was "left with the feeling that she doesn't care". Tim Tai, however, was receptive to the gesture and accepted her apology. Tai told the New York Times that he "never had ill will towards her" and “felt bad when [he] heard she'd been getting threats". Tai also added “I think this has been a learning experience for everyone involved, myself included, and I hope this blows over for both of us".

Despite Schierbecker's complaints about Click's actions during the protest, other faculty members' sentiments are similar to Tai's. They consider the issue to be "at most a regrettable mistake". The Chronicle released the faculty support letter stating "we wish to state in no uncertain terms our support for Click as a member of the University of Missouri faculty who has earned her position through an outstanding record of teaching and research". Lawmakers side more with Schierbecker, demanding that the university "take immediate action to address the inappropriate criminal actions". They went on to say that as a Professor her goal should be to "ensure a safe learning environment", which, according to them, did not happen.

Take a look at the video and tell us what you think. Do you think the incident will blow over, or be further blown out of proportion? Share your comments below.

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bridget c.  on  1/13/2016 2:25:34 PM commented:

Of course they plead the First Amendment when they get what THEY want, but when someone else tries to use it they act like it is a capital offense. It is a particularly bad sign when the teacher is as bratty as the students.

Diane C  on  1/13/2016 1:46:40 PM commented:

Totally side on the Lawmakers side! Her actions were inappropriate and made the situation a lot worse than it needed to be. Glad she's gone!

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