Journalists covering student activism on the campus of the University of Missouri still face a hostile environment.
According to Higher Education news site The College Fix, one of their student videographers had the cops called on him after he refused to leave a Wednesday evening town hall meeting organized by Concerned Student 1950.
The “Concerned Town Hall” was advertised on campus as a meeting for “black students and students of color” and many white journalists were asked to leave before it began at a chapel located on campus.
“If there are any reporters in here, can you please exit? That was my nice warning,” a student organizer announced. In a video taken by Mark Schierbecker, a student at the school and freelance videographer who contributes to The College Fix, a white male reporter from a local newspaper, the Columbia Tribune, politely questioned the student’s request.
“We will definitely respect your privacy,” the reporter can be seen saying to the group, “Just curious, um – why are you guys afr — why are you guys asking us to leave? …”
Schierbecker was one of two student journalists who got into a confrontation with Professor Melissa Click during protests on campus last November when Concerned Student 1950 first garnered national attention.
“Um, just because I asked you to,” an organizer replied. “We just want to discuss some things.”
The reporter complied and left the meeting, but Schierbecker politely declined to leave.
“My personal preference is to stay, he can be heard saying on the video to his peers. “This is considered a limited public forum. It’s open to the public, and especially to students of the university. I am here on assignment for a story and it is my personal preference to stay.”
A back and forth argument continued between Schierbacker and the student activists, at times even becoming contentious.
“'Cause this is once again, like, white people being privileged,” one student said to him.
“You don’t give him any explanation because, like, that’s not necessary,” shouted another student.
At one point in the video, Schierbecker offered to put his camera away if they promise not to call the campus police after mentioning that they were on their way over a “bias incident.”
The group of activists eventually left and headed to another, more private location.