More than 100 Missouri Republican lawmakers are calling for the firing of a University of Missouri assistant professor and a staff member who received nationwide attention after a video captured the two women attempting to intimidate student journalists at the site of a campus protest in November.
The 100 House members and 18 state senators signed letters to top administrators of the University of Missouri System and its flagship campus in Columbia, charging communication assistant professor Melissa Click “failed to meet the obligations she has to her supervisors, fellow professors, University students, and the taxpayers of Missouri” when she called for “muscle” to help her remove a student journalist from the protest site.
In addition to calling for Click’s ouster, the senators also called for the firing of Janna Basler, the university’s assistant director of Greek Life, who appears in a video to have physical contact with a student photographer. In that same video, Click appears to grab at a camera carried by student journalist Mark Schierbecker and calls for help to remove him from a protest site on campus.
The protests, which were triggered by African-American students’ concerns that administrators were doing too little to address racism on campus and included a strike by Mizzou’s football team, led to the resignations of UM system president Tim Wolfe and chancellor R. Bowen Loftin.
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“The fact that, as a professor teaching in the communication department and 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,” the lawmakers wrote. “It should be evident that these actions are inappropriate, illegal and unacceptable for a faculty member of the University of Missouri.”
State Rep. Caleb Jones, a GOP lawmaker that helped spearhead the letter, said that he and colleagues began gathering signatures last month but decided to make their effort public on Monday after gaining support from more than 100 lawmakers.
“It’s imperative that the university act swiftly to remove her from her position,” Jones said.
Click, who does not have tenure, resigned her courtesy appointment in the journalism school the day after the incident, but remains an assistant professor of communication at the university.
In the letter, the GOP lawmakers also raise questions about Click’s research. According to a university bio, Click’s “current research projects involve 50 Shades of Grey readers, the impact of social media in fans’ relationship with Lady Gaga, masculinity and male fans, messages about class and food in reality television programming, and messages about work in children’s television programs.”
“While we recognize there may be some value in pop culture studies, her behavior has the public questioning her ‘research’ and her unacceptable actions during the protests,” the lawmakers wrote.
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