The University of Missouri will launch an online portal to field complaints about the actions of employees, after a deluge of angry emails and phone calls over the actions of Melissa Click, an assistant professor of communications who was caught on camera calling for “some muscle” to remove a photographer during a campus protest in November.
Also last week, a trove of emails released by the University of Missouri and posted at the online web site Muck Rock shows that Click received a barrage of critical emails but also a few of support from academic colleagues from around the world.
“I'm so horrified and angry to see the rightwing attack machine set itself on you, Melissa,” wrote Jonathan Gray, a professor of media and cultural studies at the University of Wisconsin. “I can only imagine how hard it is.”
Also in the same string of support emails is a note from a University of Michigan professor.
“My colleagues and I are sending a letter of support to your department and I've posted a note of support on my FB page,” wrote communications professor Susan Douglas at U of M. She signed off, “in solidarity.”
From Australia, Stephen Harrington, a senior lecturer in journalism at Queensland University of Technology in Brisbane, wrote Click:
“I salute your tremendous fortitude... I can't imagine how you must be feeling right now. I really hope all those trolls and ideologues find a different (and, ideally, deserving) target for their anger some time soon.”
An associate communications professor from the University of Arizona, Jennifer Stevens Aubrey, dissects for Click a You Tube video of student Mark Schierbecker speaking about the incident with Click,
Schierbecker caught Click on film screaming for someone to help her prevent a student photographer from shooting the protest action.
“He’s out to get you!,” Aubrey wrote. “Really, this tells me that the assault charge is a way to put pressure on the University to fire you.”
Click was suspended after the incident and fired in February by the university. After her termination, several academics sent a letter to the Chronicle of Higher Education in support of Click alleging the university had failed to follow due process in the firing.
Only Douglas, from the University of Michigan, signed the letter.
The emails released by the university last week were received and sent between November 9 and November 15 and included several University of Missouri officials including former college President Tim Wolfe, former football coach Gary Pinkel and interim chancellor Hank Foley.
Wolfe resigned in the days after the Click flap and Pinkel retired four days later. Pinkel stepped down amid criticism over allowing his to boycott their athletic practice obligations until Wolfe left office, citing an untenable racial climate at the school.
Click’s actions came during a protest by a group that claimed the university was beset by a racist climate.
Most of the emails released were critical of Click.
"In light of these recent events, I am withdrawing my support for the University of Missouri,” wrote one alum, in one of the more gentle missives. “Fire Melissa Click for intimidating a student and not standing up for the first amendment."