COLUMBIA, MO (KPLR) - A University of Missouri faculty member charged with a misdemeanor assault waved her arraignment in Columbia's Municipal Court Tuesday. 45-year-old Melissa Click is an assistant professor of communications. The court case stems from her effort to stop a student journalist from photographing a student protest on a public quadrangle at the University of Missouri.
The video recorded by the student journalist shows Click trying to keep the reporter away from students who had been involved in campus protests. Those protests resulted in the resignation of the university wide president. Click did not appear in court Tuesday. And attorney representing her entered a standard not guilty plea and asked the judge to set a later court date. The next court date will be February 16. At that time she could enter a written plea, ask for more time to prepare for her case, or ask that a trial date be set.
University of Missouri Curator David Steelman thinks campus leaders should terminate her contract. Steelman believes Prof. Click violated the rights of several students by calling for some "muscle" to remove them from the public quad. He said "I don't think you have to go through a bunch of processes to know that is wrong. It demeans the university that no quick decision has been made."
Click's actions in November made national news and drew strong criticism from some alumni and others who believed she violated students' First Amendment rights.
On Monday some Missouri state senators, speaking on the Senate floor, criticized the University of Missouri for continuing to employ Click. However the Interim Chancellor Hank Foley is not ready to say she should be terminated.
He has asked the campus Provost, Click's Dean and her department chair to decide if she should be removed from the classroom immediately until the charges against her are "sorted out.”
Professor Click is also being considered for a tenured position at MU. Curator Steelman questions whether that is just a way to drag out the process. He believes this is not a matter of academic freedom. Steelman said, "academic freedom is to protect the ability of professors to teach and seek the truth. It is not to protect them from bad behavior or from their violation of others rights."