Revoked? Media Professor Who Wanted To ‘Muscle’ Out Student Reporter Might Lose Journalism School Appointment

Matt Vespa
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Posted: Nov 10, 2015 5:40 PM
Revoked? Media Professor Who Wanted To ‘Muscle’ Out Student Reporter Might Lose Journalism School Appointment

As Katie wrote earlier this morning, student journalists Tim Tai and Mark Schierbecker were asked to leave the protester encampment at the University of Missouri by associate media professor Melissa Click and other students encircling the camp. They had formed a "no media, safe space" to prevent the press from talking to the protesters after they succeeded in having the school's president and chancellor both turning in their resignations within hours of each other. The school has protested the administration for failing to adequately address the instances of alleged racism on campus.  

Tai was pushed out by a wave of students, while Schierbecker, a junior at Mizzou, was able to get inside the perimeter, only to be confronted by Quick who asked for some “muscle” to help her get him out. Click’s atrocious disregard for the First Amendment has caused the Missouri School of Journalism to consider revoking her appointment to their institution. Prof. David Kurpius said released a statement praising Tai for his professionalism during the encounter, and said that Click’s appointment is pretty much on the chopping block:

The news media have First Amendment rights to cover public events. Tai handled himself professionally and with poise.

Also, for clarification, Assistant Professor Melissa Click, featured in several videos confronting journalists, is not a faculty member in the Missouri School of Journalism.

She is a member of the MU Department of Communication in the College of Arts and Science. In that capacity she holds a courtesy appointment with the School of Journalism. Journalism School faculty members are taking immediate action to review that appointment.

The events of Nov. 9 have raised numerous issues regarding the boundaries of the First Amendment. Although the attention on journalists has shifted the focus from the news of the day, it provides an opportunity to educate students and citizens about the role of a free press.

The Columbian Missourian added that Kurpius and Esther Thorson, Missouri School of Journalism’s associate dean for graduate studies, both think Click’s actions were “a clear violation of First Amendment rights.” Kurpius also said it’s a prerogative for faculty "to support the First Amendment rights of all students and staff.

The publication also added that these courtesy appointments “allows members of one academic unit to serve on the graduate committees of students from other academic units. Click teaches mass media in the Department of Communications, which is part of MU's College of Arts & Science. The School of Journalism is a separate entity.”

An email vote was conducted to decide Click’s appointment:

An email vote was being conducted among doctoral faculty and members of the journalism school's Promotion and Tenure Committee on Tuesday morning. A simple majority from the group is needed to revoke a courtesy appointment, Thorson said.

"It's close," Thorson said of the vote. "But we have some strong voices concerned about fairness (to Click)."

On Tuesday afternoon, Thorson said in an email that the doctoral faculty met at 1 p.m. after indicating via email that they wanted to meet face-to-face.

"The discussion has not concluded and no decision has yet been made about the courtesy appointment," Thorson wrote. She said a second faculty meeting will likely occur Tuesday night.

Kurpius said he was not aware of Click ever having taught a journalism class at MU, adding that she might be able to teach a cross-listed course.

"Dr. Click does not teach journalism courses," Thorson said in an email. "She serves on some doctoral committees."

[…]

In an email to Chris Bennett, an attorney in Austin, Texas, and an MU graduate, College of Arts & Science Dean Michael O'Brien said, "I in no way condone what Dr. Click did, but I hope (key word) that we can chalk this up to inflamed passion and inexperience."

O'Brien indicated that he and Mitchell McKinney, who chairs the Department of Communication, would be meeting with Click.

At the same time, Click’s behavior seems contradictory to what she posted on her Facebook page, where she was asking friends to help her get this story about student fighting racism at Mizzou to national media outlets.

Updates to follow.

UPDATE: Prof. Click has apologized to the media.

UPDATE II: The safe space has been opened to the press.

CORRECTION: The original post said that Tim Tai was confronted by Quick. That is inaccurate. It was MU junior Mark Schierbecker, who with Tai and captured both of their confrontations on camera. Tai was pushed away by a mob students, while Schierbecker was able to slip past only to encounter Quick The post has been updated to reflect the changes. 

(H/T Mediaite)