A University of Missouri assistant professor who was caught on video trying to block a student journalist from covering a protest on Monday at the university’s main campus in Columbia has resigned her “courtesy appointment” at the Missouri School of Journalism, the university announced late yesterday.
The protests, over the university’s handling of racist incidents on campus, were covered by the national media. Protesters eventually forced the resignations of the university’s president, and the chancellor of the U of M-Columbia campus.
The widely circulated video of the professor, Melissa Click, was shot and posted by student reporter Mark Schierbecker. The video shows a group of protesters confronting student photojournalist Tim Tai, at the urging of Click. She tells him to “back off.” Tai hold his ground, and asserts his right to photograph the protest under the First Amendment, until the protesters interlocked arms and physically push him back.
Schierbecker then doubles back with his camera towards Click, who was behind the line of protesters confronting Tai, and asks to speak to her. “You need to get out,” she tells him.
“No, I don’t,” he responds.
At that point, Click appears to grab at his camera, then she turns around and calls for other protesters to help force Schierbecker away: “Who wants to help me get this reporter out of here? I need some muscle over here!”
Amid a storm of protest on social media over Click’s interference with the reporters’ First Amendment rights, Click said in a prepared statement yesterday, “I have reached out to the journalists involved to offer my sincere apologies and to express regrets over my actions.”
Last night, after a School of Journalism faculty meeting to discuss the incident, David Kurpius, the school’s dean, announced that Click had resigned her “courtesy appointment.” Kurpius noted that Click “never taught courses at the School.”
Her “courtesy appointment” at the School of Journalism simply enabled her to as a thesis reviewer for School of Journalism students, The New York Times explained in its report about the incident.
Click continues to hold her position in the communications department of the University of Missouri’s College of Arts & Science, according to the university.
Kurpius said in statement yesterday that “The Missiouri School of Journalism is proud of [Tai] for how he handled himself” during the confrontation with Click and other protesters.
Tai has said on Twitter, “I’m a little perturbed at being part of the story, so maybe let’s focus some more reporting on systemic racism in higher ed institutions.”