An embattled University of Missouri professor has again found herself to be the subject of public scrutiny, after a video surfaced that shows her engaged in a verbal confrontation with police.
Melissa Click, an assistant professor in MU’s communication department, was suspended last month, in the wake of an encounter she had with a student journalist during protests on the Columbia, Mo., campus in the fall.
Another video of Click, obtained by the Columbia Missourian, surfaced a few days ago. That clip shows Click in a gruff interaction with law enforcement during Missouri’s homecoming parade. The university’s interim chancellor this weekend issued a statement on the matter, saying her actions left him “disappointed” and “angry.”
“Her conduct and behavior are appalling, and I am not only disappointed, I am angry, that a member of our faculty acted this way,” interim chancellor Hank Foley said in the statement released Sunday.
The statement continued: “Her actions caught on camera last October, are just another example of a pattern of misconduct by Dr. Click — most notably, her assault on one of our students while seeking ‘muscle’ during a highly volatile situation on Carnahan Quadrangle in November.
“We must have high expectations of members of our community, and I will address these new revelations with the Board of Curators as they work to complete their own review of the matter.”
Protests and unrest on the MU campus garnered national attention last fall, as a graduate student embarked on a hunger strike, and the university’s football team threatened a boycott in November. That month, Click was captured on camera calling for some “muscle” to deal with a student journalist, who was trying to cover the protests.
“My mistake is just one part of who I am,” she told the Missourian in a recent interview. “I want to stay at MU. I deserve to be heard, and I deserve to be treated fairly, and I’m going to fight to be treated fairly. I think it’s everybody’s right to be treated fairly.”
The latest video clip, from the October homecoming parade, shows Click yelling at law enforcement and using an expletive. The Missourian reported that she had tried to insert herself between police and students, who were protesting as Tim Wolfe, then the University of Missouri system president, came down the parade route.
“I was drawn to stand in solidarity with these students because of their moving message of racial exclusion and the angry responses of the onlookers,” Click said in a statement released by Status Labs, a crisis management and online reputation management firm. “While my inexperience with civic actions led to some mistakes, I feel this video depicts my desire to support marginalized MU students.”
Click said she “felt afraid” for the student protesters at the time but apologized for the language she used with police.
“The officer’s physical force was unexpected, and I spoke in a way I now regret,” she said.
But in her statement, she was also critical of Foley’s news release, calling it a reversal of a previous statement regarding public comments on personnel matters.
“His comments create a biased environment that will make it difficult to receive fair treatment through the due process that MU policy affords all faculty,” she said in the statement. “His words and actions set a troubling precedent that endangers academic freedom for all.”