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Friday, July 1, 2016

Young Americans for Liberty petitions for Melissa Click’s removal

YAL President: “To the national spotlight, all we are is Melissa Click.”

The same student group that burned the Islamic State flag on the columns is now petitioning for the UM System Board of Curators to remove suspended assistant communications professor Melissa Click.

Young Americans for Liberty members collected 683 signatures in Speakers Circle from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Feb. 18. YAL President Thomas Bradbury, a journalism and political science major, said Click needed to be removed because the controversy her actions on Carnahan Quad created was harmful to the university.

Click received criticism when a video of her calling for “muscle” to remove student journalist Mark Schierbecker from the Concerned Student 1950 campsite. Bradbury said when he told people he went to MU, all they asked him about was the Click situation.

“To the national spotlight, all we are is Melissa Click,” he said. “All we are is first amendment violators. We can claim to be the top journalism school in the country, but as long as Melissa Click is still employed at the university, I don’t think that’s true, because that means that the university sides itself with disrespecting the First Amendment.”

Vincent Pizzo, a freshman YAL member, said he was concerned that the university would allow a professor accused of assaulting a student to remain employed.

“In the end she assaulted a student at this university, and she’s a professor,” he said. “To do so, especially on a public space, it should outrage people. It should enrage people that a professor can get away with literal physical assault on a student, and all she gets is a slap on the wrist.”

YAL also put up a free speech wall to allow students to voice contrasting opinions. They had held another free speech wall event Nov. 11 for students to write their thoughts on the recent campus events, including the resignation of former UM System President Tim Wolfe and the Click incident on Carnahan Quad, both of which happened two days prior.

Writing on the wall included a debate on whether racism is still a problem in America, statements supporting and against Click and a few off-topic comments. One student wrote, “CS1950 likes Nickelback.”

“We have provided this wall as a space where, if somebody disagrees with us, they can write whatever they want because we believe this much in free speech and the First Amendment, something that Melissa Click does not herself believe in,” Bradbury said.

Schierbecker, also a member of YAL, was at Speakers Circle shooting a video of the group, but he said he would not be signing the petition himself. He said he was not sure Click should be fired and had concerns that the Missouri Legislature would manipulate the situation by leveraging the university’s funding.

“I don’t think that it needs to be a political issue,” he said. “I think that the legislature has valid concerns about the university, and the university needs to listen to them, but I don’t think that what happens to her should be based on any sort of fear of reprisal.”

Pizzo said the response to the petition had been “mixed.” He said one student approached him and put her hand close to his face and asked him if he would call it assault. He was unsure if many of the students were fully aware of the controversy.

Bradbury said they would submit the signatures to the UM System Board of Curators. Pizzo contrasted the petition with an online petitions in support of her, which he said would not accurately represent how students felt.

“As long as the curators get the idea that, we did this in one day, we had this much outcry about how students want to have their voice heard, (we’ll be satisfied),” he said.

Edited by Katherine Knott | kknott@themaneater.com

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