Missouri legislators looking to ax University of Missouri assistant professor Melissa Click have an ally on the university’s board of curators.
Curator David Steelman, a Republican from Rolla, told The Star on Thursday he wants to see Click out of MU after she tried to remove a student journalist from anti-racism protests last fall.
“People of Missouri send their children to the campus and they have a right to expect that the professors are not reckless enough to jeopardize their physical safety,” Steelman said. “I believe we should have zero tolerance for the antagonism she showed to people with different opinions than hers, and to the physical safety of people.”
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Click received wide criticism after a video showed her calling for “some muscle” to remove a reporter Nov. 9 from the Carnahan Quadrangle, where protesters had gathered. UM System Tim Wolfe had resigned earlier that day over protests about racism on campus. MU Chancellor R. Bowen Loftin also resigned later that day.
Click has since resigned a courtesy appointment with the MU School of Journalism and issued an apology for the incident, but remains an assistant professor in the Department of Communications.
On Dec. 18, more than 100 Republican lawmakers wrote an open letter to university officials demanding Click’s termination.
“As a professional representing our university, Click failed to meet the obligations she has to her supervisors, fellow professors, university students, and the taxpayers of Missouri,” the letter said.
Click did not respond to requests by The Star for comment.
Although he also wants to see Click fired, Steelman said the university, not the General Assembly, should resolve the situation.
“This whole letter is a red herring,” Steelman said. “I almost wish they hadn’t done it … The governor gave a statement that was essentially the same as the legislature’s, but he said he doesn’t want to micromanage the university. I think that’s a very reasonable approach.”
However, whether the board will discuss Click’s future at MU in future meetings is not up to Steelman, but Board of Curators Chairwoman Pamela Henrickson.
Steelman said he hopes more discussion will take place to at least further reprimand Click, even if she is not fired from the university.
“There’s always a way to debate these issues,” he said. “But the idea that a letter in her file is sufficient is absurd and indefensible to me.”