Lost a job in this Heinous Environment
Melissa Click, a mass media professor at the University of Missouri, is seen pushing a student journalist’s camera and asking “for some muscle” during demonstrations on campus on Nov. 9, 2015 (YouTube/Mark Schierbecker).
Melissa Click, a professor who gained national notoriety during the protests at the University of Missouri, has been fired.
Click made headlines when a video of her pushing a reporter away from protesters went viral; she could be heard calling for “muscle” to toss out reporters trying to cover the news.
The protests at the flagship state university over race and other bias issues had paralyzed the campus and forced the resignation of the system president and chancellor. When a student journalist said he had a First Amendment right to be there and take photos, Click said, “I can’t hear you!” and started chanting, according to a transcript released by the university system, “Hey hey! Ho ho! Reporters have got to go!”
Click apologized, and many professors defended her and the principle of academic freedom, but the earlier image of her became a symbol for others of attempts to muzzle freedom of speech and of a public university system in chaos.
Let’s investigate: Academic freedom is the belief that the freedom of inquiry by faculty members is essential to the mission of the academy as well as the principles of academia, and that scholars should have freedom to teach or communicate ideas or facts (including those that are inconvenient to external political groups or to authorities) without being targeted for repression, job loss, or imprisonment.
Academic freedom is a contested issue and, therefore, has limitations in practice. In the United States, for example, according to the widely recognized “1940 Statement on Academic Freedom and Tenure” of the American Association of University Professors, teachers should be careful to avoid controversial matter that is unrelated to the subject. When they speak or write in public, they are free to express their opinions without fear from institutional censorship or discipline, but they should show restraint and clearly indicate that they are not speaking for their institution.