Committee formed to evaluate free speech policy on campus

The committee of 13 members will evaluate whether MU “responded appropriately to events this past fall.”

In November 2015, MU made national news due to the protests of the student group Concerned Student 1950 and their fight for equality for marginalized groups on campus. However, it also made national news for a viral video, which showed student photographer Tim Tai, on assignment for ESPN, being prevented from taking photos by assistant professor of communication Melissa Click and others.

In response to the video, interim Chancellor Hank Foley and Faculty Council Chairman Ben Trachtenberg announced Wednesday the creation of an Ad Hoc Joint Committee on Protests, Public Spaces, Free Speech and the Press. The committee has 13 members and is comprised of faculty, administration and students.

“Recent activity on campus has left many students, faculty, and staff unsure of how the University regulates public spaces on campus, especially during protests,” the statement reads. “In addition, observers statewide and nationwide have questioned whether the University responded appropriately to events this past fall. It is important that the University be well prepared should similar events occur in the future, lest students, faculty, staff, and visitors be placed in harm’s way or subjected to violations of their rights.”

Missouri legislators passed a bill in summer 2015 that made college campuses free speech zones, meaning that protests couldn’t be restricted.

According to the statement, the committee will have two primary purposes. Its first purpose is to recommend how to regulate public spaces, while protecting free speech and free expression. Its second purpose is to recommend how MU officials can solve future conflicts that involve the use of public spaces on campus. The committee will also look back on the events in November at Carnahan Quad to see what lessons can be learned.

More than 100 Republican state lawmakers released a letter calling for Click's removal from her position on Jan. 4. More than 100 faculty members at MU also released a letter supporting Click and her actions.

Membership:

Faculty:

-Bob Jerry, Law, Chair

-Moises Arce, Political Science

-Sandy Davidson, Journalism

-Charles Nilon, Fisheries and Wildlife

-Alasdair Roberts, Public Affairs

-Christina Wells, Law

Administration:

-Chuck Henson, Interim Vice Chancellor for Inclusion, Diversity and Equity

-Todd Houts, Director, Environmental Health & Safety

-Doug Schwandt, Chief, MUPD

-Gary Ward, Vice Chancellor for Operations

Counsel:

-Mark Van Zandt, UM System General Counsel’s Office

Students:

-Samantha Franks, Undergraduate Student, Political Science

-Evonnia Woods, Doctoral Student, Sociology

Edited by Hailey Stolze | hstolze@themaneater.com

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