Controversies

Facebook post from Mizzou-area donut shop sparks blowback

Perry Chiaramonte

Strange Donuts near the Columbia campus of the University of Missouri is giving a somewhat strange reason for shuttering its doors.

The shop, part of a St. Louis-based chain, said in a now-deleted Facebook post that it’s out of business because of declining university student enrollment. “Effective immediately we are closing the como loco [Columbia location]. It’s been a lot of fun but there has been a correlation between the student population decline and our sales,” the post said.

But included in the post was a photo of Melissa Click, a former Mizzou professor who accosted a student photojournalist at a public protest on campus in 2015, yelling at him to stop filming the event, according to The College Fix. He continued filming as she yelled, “You need to get out.” When the young reporter refused to stop she yelled for “some muscle” to enforce her demand.

A video of her accosting and threatening the student went viral, prompting a massive negative reaction against the instructor. Not long after that Click left the university, and enrollment at the university fell enough that several dormitories had to be closed.

Including Click’s picture in its Facebook post appeared calculated to blame Mizzou’s declining enrollment -- and thus the shop closure -- on the professor. In typical Facebook fashion, irate users flooded the Strange Donuts page with negative comments.

“Strange Donuts are those nasty bad donuts you buy for the people at the office you don't like,” reads a comment from one Facebook user. “Oh ya and they can't admit that so they blame college town activism for why they flunked small business ownership 101.”

One commenter alleged the shop’s staff of being racist.

“1. That post with Melissa Click was trash,” reads the posting. “2. Declining students isn't the reason your sales dropped, but s----y customer service and racism might be.”

People have also taken to reviewing websites like Yelp to trash Strange Donuts, while others are planning a “doughnut protest” where they intend to patronize a local competitor’s shop.

Strange Donuts owner Jason Bockman released an apology on Facebook on Thursday afternoon and in a comment to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

“It was never my attention to offend anyone,” Bockman said. “I was hurt that I offended people.”

Last March, the University of Missouri braced for a 25 percent drop in new students for the fall semester. It forced the institution to enact painful budget cuts, as well as hiring and salary freezes.

“We do know that the events of last fall have had an effect on our application numbers; however, it’s difficult to provide a specific number as we do not have any hard data," University of Missouri spokesman Christian Basi said in a statement to Fox News at the time.

This past fall undergraduate numbers were down 8 percent compared to the previous year, with three-quarters of that loss stemming from a smaller incoming freshmen class.

Perry Chiaramonte is a reporter for FoxNews.com. Follow him on Twitter at @perrych