The University of Missouri professor who called for “some muscle” to toss a reporter out of a demonstration on public property could be the one who gets bounced, after state lawmakers on Monday demanded that she be fired.
Communications Professor Melissa Click made national news in November, when she tried to have a student reporter on assignment for ESPN thrown off the quad during a racially charged protest.
“Who wants to help me get this reporter out of here?” Click yelled out after reporter Tim Tai refused to leave in an incident caught on video. “I need some muscle over here.”
The Nov. 9 incident came as students protested the racial climate on campus and reacted to the earlier resignation of former school President Tim Wolfe. Video of the confrontation went viral and drew nearly 3 million views, igniting a nationwide debate on the First Amendment.
"The fact that, as a professor teaching the communication department and the school of journalism, she displayed such a complete disregard for the First Amendment rights of reporters should be enough to question her competency and aptitude for her job."
Critics fumed that a professor could not only take part in a student protest, but also that one affiliated with the school’s venerable journalism school would try to forcibly stop a journalist from reporting the news. Click lost her courtesy appointment in the journalism school and was accused of assault and Title IX violations, but remains an untenured professor.
Now, more than 100 House Republicans and 18 Senate members from the state Legislature have signed a letter to the school’s board of curators demanding Click’s “immediate firing.”
"The fact that, as a professor teaching the communication department and the school of journalism, she displayed such a complete disregard for the First Amendment rights of reporters should be enough to question her competency and aptitude for her job," reads the letter, penned by Rep. Caleb Jones and Sen. Kurt Schaefer.
The letter also questioned Click’s taxpayer-funded research into “50 Shades of Grey,” Lady Gaga and “Twilight."
School spokesman Christian Basi told the Missourian he doesn't comment on personnel matters as a matter of university policy.