Melissa A. Click says that her dismissal last month from the University of Missouri at Columbia was punishment for standing “with students who have drawn attention to the issue of overt racism,” and that she had been scapegoated as officials “bowed to conservative voices that seek to tarnish my stellar 12-year record at MU,” according to a statement she released on Tuesday.
The statement came out a day after the American Association of University Professors opened an investigation into Ms. Click’s firing. The assistant professor of communication was caught on camera in November attempting to block a student journalist from entering an area on the campus where protesters had gathered. The video drew widespread scorn from free-speech advocates, and then state lawmakers who demanded her dismissal.
According to the AAUP, Ms. Click’s reinstatement is “the only acceptable resolution” and the association may place the university on its censure list, which informs potential faculty members that the campus’s administration does not guarantee academic freedom, reports The Columbia Missourian.
When Ms. Click’s firing was announced by the university system’s Board of Curators, its chair, Pamela Q. Henrickson, said in a statement that it had not based its decision on “her support for students engaged in protest or their views.” Instead, the board said, “Dr. Click was not entitled to interfere with the rights of others, to confront members of law enforcement, or to encourage potential physical intimidation against a student.”
Ms. Click rejected that rationale, asserting that the system board had overstepped its authority in terminating her. Instead, officials should have followed the campus’s own policies, she said. That argument has been echoed by Ms. Click’s colleagues as well as a group of scholars who have gone public in support of the professor.
Following is Ms. Click’s full statement:
I am pleased with the American Association for University Professors’ (AAUP) announcement that they will launch an investigation of the University of Missouri Board of Curators’ decision to suspend and terminate me without due process. The AAUP’s action underscores my belief that the Curators have overstepped their authority. While I have taken the Curators’ offer to appeal their decision to terminate me, I do not believe that the process they used to come to their decision was fair. I firmly believe that the Curators must adhere to MU’s Collected Rules and Regulations and rescind their termination notice.
I reject the Board of Curators’ claim that my case is “not typical.” In their decision to terminate my employment, the Curators bowed to conservative voices that seek to tarnish my stellar 12-year record at MU. Instead of disciplining me for conduct that does not “meet expectations for a University faculty member,” the Curators are punishing me for standing with students who have drawn attention to the issue of overt racism at the University of Missouri. While I have apologized on numerous occasions to numerous parties for my actions on October 10, 2015 and November 9, 2015, I will not apologize for my support of Black students who experience racism at the University of Missouri.The Board of Curators is using me as a scapegoat to distract from larger campus issues, but their termination of my employment will not remedy the environment of injustice that persists at MU. Instead of seeking to silence Black students and their allies, MU must acknowledge the concerns of marginalized students on our campus, address the racial problems that shape the campus community, and ensure fair treatment of all students, staff, and faculty.