Click believes more context necessary for report leading to her termination

Melissa Click: “Those videotaped moments (for which I have formally and publicly apologized) deserve to be understood in a wider frame of reference, among all of the momentous events of the fall semester.”
Photo Courtesy of Lacy Rushin

Immediately following assistant communication professor Melissa Click’s suspension on Jan. 27, UM System General Counsel hired the law firm of Bryan Cave, LLP to independently investigate her involvement in last November’s protests and report back to the Board of Curators.

On Nov. 9, video footage depicting Click calling for “muscle” to remove a student journalist from Carnahan Quad went viral. In February, more footage from Columbia Police Department body cameras was released that showed Click yelling profanity at police during the Homecoming parade in October.

At an executive session Feb. 24, the curators voted 4–2 to terminate Click’s employment at MU.

Click may appeal her termination by submitting a written statement by 4 p.m. March 4. If she does not, the board’s decision to terminate will be final.

The law firm’s report stitched together a detailed timeline of events on Nov. 9 and the days surrounding it, relying on documents, reports, transcriptions, video recordings and interviews with over 20 witnesses, some of whom were suggested by Click. The report did not draw conclusions or provide legal advice, but simply provided context to Click’s actions for the curators to review.

Click was interviewed twice for the investigation and was represented by counsel on both occasions. She also had the option of writing a written response to the Bryan Cave report voicing any disagreement with the report. She did so, and her addendum highlighted the tenseness of the situation, her public apologies for her actions and a wider context of the happenings at the parade and on the quad.

“Those videotaped moments (for which I have formally and publicly apologized) deserve to be understood in a wider frame of reference, among all of the momentous events of the fall semester,” she wrote.

Click referenced many racially contentious events leading up to Nov. 9 in her response, including the Legion of Black Collegians’ Homecoming Court and Missouri Students Association President Payton Head being called racial slurs, the football team’s boycott and the swastika drawn in human feces in a residence hall.

In regard to the events of Nov. 9, Click believes the report doesn’t adequately describe the tension on the quad that day.

“There were no police present (a observation others corroborate), and those of us present felt that someone needed to help maintain order and keep the students — who by all accounts had just succeeded in their contentious goal of pressuring MU’s president to resign — safe from retaliation,” Click wrote.

In their letter to Click regarding her termination, the curators acknowledged Click’s comments on the report, but did not deem it necessary to respond, nor did they believe the revisions took away from “the key facts and the significance” of her conduct during the parade and at the quad.

“The Board acknowledges your description of the environment as ‘tense,’ ‘challenging,’ and ‘precarious,’” the letter read. “But that does not excuse your conduct. Rather, the Board is concerned that the actions you chose to take threatened to make the situation more precarious.”

While noting that she had apologized for her actions, Click’s addendum still sought in some ways to defend them. She described the police officers shaking pepper spray at the parade and students embracing and sobbing.

“This is the tense and tricky environment I stepped into,” she wrote. “I had no training or experience with public events such as this, but felt that someone should step in to support and protect these MU students. I was not the only person who stepped forward to offer the students support.”

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