Missouri professor who confronted student journalist denied appeal

Reuters News
Posted: Mar 15, 2016 1:26 PM

(Reuters) - The University of Missouri on Tuesday denied an appeal made by a professor who was fired after being caught on video calling for "some muscle" to have a student journalist removed from a campus protest.

Melissa Click, formerly an assistant professor in the school's communications department, filed the appeal earlier this month with the Board of Curators, the university's governing body.

Click said her termination was unnecessary because her actions in November were within her rights as an educator and Missouri citizen to help control a "hostile situation."

"There were no police present - either campus police or Columbia police - and there were no administrators present who made any effort to control what was a volatile situation. In this context, the Board's expectations of behavior seem profoundly unfair," Click wrote.

Click was fired in February for the incident that took place in November.

In the video, she can be seen calling on protesters during an anti-racism demonstration to remove the reporter and a student photographer from a spot in the school quad that demonstrators had claimed as private space.

"Who wants to help me get this reporter out of here?" Click yells on camera. "I need some muscle over here." Click's hand can be seen blocking the video image at least twice.

The curators have said that while they respected Click's rights to her views, she was not entitled to interfere with the rights of others, confront members of law enforcement or encourage potential physical intimidation against a student.

"The perspectives presented by you and others identified by you have not changed the Board's assessment that your conduct on those occasions was improper and warrants termination," Tuesday's letter from the board of curators said in rejecting the appeal.

Prior to her termination, she had been suspended from her position and charged by police with misdemeanor assault.

Under a deferred prosecution agreement in January, Click must complete 20 hours of community service work.

(Reporting by Justin Madden in Los Angeles; Editing by Fiona Ortiz and Alan Crosby)