Petitions started to remove two MU employees after incident with journalists

The three petitions have more than 1,500 signatures combined in less than 24 hours.

Multiple petitions have been created calling for the removal of two MU employees after a video surfaced documenting an incident on Monday, Nov. 9 in which they demanded that journalists leave the Concerned Student 1950 campsite.

Assistant Director of Greek Life and Leadership Janna Basler and Assistant Professor of Mass Media Melissa Click can be seen in the video shouting at MU student and former Maneater staffer Tim Tai and other journalists. Students formed a human barricade to prevent the journalists from approaching Concerned Student 1950 members and Basler can be seen raising her arms above her head shouting at Tai.

Later in the video, Click can be seen grabbing the videographer’s, MU student Mark Schierbecker, camera and shouting, “You need to get out.” She then shouted to other protesters, "Who wants to help me get this reporter out of here? I need some muscle over here!"

Click released a statement Tuesday afternoon apologizing for her actions. She said that she reached out to the journalists involved to apologize.

“I regret the language and strategies I used, and sincerely apologize to the MU campus, community, and journalists at large, for my behavior, and also for the way my actions have shifted attention away from the students’ campaign for justice,” Click said in the statement.

On Wednesday, Nov. 11, Click released another statement resigning both her courtesy appointment to the School of Journalism and appointment to the Chancellor’s Student Publications Committee. “I have enjoyed working with the faculty, staff, and students in both groups and deeply respect their missions,” the statement read. “Effective today, I have resigned my affiliation with the MU School of Journalism and Chancellor’s Student Publications Committee to allow them to continue their important work without further distraction.”

A statement was also released on Nov. 11 by Department of Student Life Director Mark Lucas that said Basler had been placed on administrative leave and relieved of her duties as Director of Greek Life while an investigation was conducted.

Click has been widely criticized on social media for her actions and two petitions have been started calling for her removal. The petitions have each garnered close to 1,000 signatures.

Additionally, a Facebook page titled “Hey Hey Ho Ho Melissa Click Needs to Go,” was started, playing off of the “Hey hey! Ho ho! Reporters have got to go!" chant that activists shouted. Within 13 hours of its creation, over 250 people had liked the page.

“I started the page because I was outraged at the actions of these protesters, especially Melissa Click, an assistant professor in the mass media department, in their confrontation with the student journalists,” Kevin Moore, a St. Louis area resident and creator of the Facebook page, said in an email.

A petition has also been started to remove Basler from her position, but has garnered significantly less signatures. Much of the response from media and students has been centered on Click because of her positions as a mass media professor.

“As an 'advisor' to Mizzou students, and as a faculty member who should understand first amendment rights, her actions were shameful and could have caused these students to be harmed,” Moore said.

On Tuesday, Nov. 10, School of Journalism Dean David Kurpius released a statement praising Tai. He clarified that as a professor with the mass media department in the College of Arts and Science, Click is not a faculty member with the School of Journalism and instead holds a “courtesy appointment.”

“She is a member of the MU Department of Communication in the College of Arts and Science,” Kurpius said in the statement. “In that capacity she holds a courtesy appointment with the School of Journalism. Journalism School faculty members are taking immediate action to review that appointment.”

Mitchell McKinney, chair of the department of communication, also released a statement, saying that the department supports student journalists and the first amendment.

“The University of Missouri supports the First Amendment as a fundamental right and guiding principle underlying all that we do as an academic community,” McKinney said in the statement. “We applaud student journalists who were working in a very trying atmosphere to report a significant story. Intimidation is never an acceptable form of communication.”

Click and Basler could not be reached for comment.

A joint statement was made by the three MU Greek councils in support of Basler.

“We understand the importance of upholding students’ First Amendment rights and were disappointed in the video uploaded yesterday, but we do not feel as if her actions at that time were reflective of her intentions to support students,” the statement read. Lucas declined to be interviewed. McKinney said in the statement that he “will not be able to comment on any personnel matters.” This is in accordance with University Collected Rules and Regulations.

Lucas released a statement Tuesday afternoon, saying Student Life and the Office of Greek Life "are saddened to see the efforts of our students being overshadowed during this critical time for our community. MU is committed to the First Amendment, free speech, academic freedom and the robust exchange of ideas and knowledge."

He added that he and Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Cathy Scroggs are reviewing videos from the demonstrations and will be having conversations with "individuals present in order to understand what happened."

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