Academics Flip Out Over Melissa Click Getting Fired

Blake Neff | Reporter

The nation’s largest group of college professors has placed the University of Missouri (MU) on an academic censure list over its decision to fire Melissa Click for attacking a student journalist. The group claims that despite her egregious behavior, Click is also a martyr for academic freedom.

The American Association of University Professors (AAUP) represents over 47,000 college professors on over 500 campuses. The group views itself as a guardian of academic freedom, and it has become deeply perturbed over Click’s dismissal from MU last February. During the group’s annual meeting in Washington, D.C. Saturday, more than 100 AAUP voting members unanimously decided to place MU on its censure list due to its firing of Click.

Click won national attention and derision last November when she came out to support students who were protesting and celebrating the downfall of college president Tim Wolfe, who was forced to resign after black players on the football team went on strike. When a student journalist attempted to cover the public protests, Click attacked him, said he needed to leave, and called for “some muscle” to remove him when he defended his right to be there. (RELATED: Melissa Click Claims She Was Fired For Being White)

Click initially went unpunished for her actions, with the university announcing it would only reconsider Click’s employment after her tenure review process was completed in the summer of 2016. But pressure from Missouri lawmakers, who threatened to yank some of MU’s funding, coupled with a misdemeanor assault charge for Click caused the school to reconsider. The school’s board of curators voted to fire her in late February.

It is the manner of Click’s firing that has the AAUP in an uproar. The group says Click was entitled to a hearing and other procedural protections, which the university ignored in order to remove her more quickly. If MU was willing to dump due process in order to give Click the heave-ho, the AAUP argued, then it could do the same to other professors whose academic work offends politicians or important donors.

The censure list won’t have an immediate effect on MU, but it could hurt the school’s ability to attract top talent. MU is one of just a handful of major public, non-religious colleges to be on the censure list. One of its notable companions on the list is the University if Illinois at Urbana-Champagne, which was placed on the list after it revoked a job offer to a professor because of many violently anti-Israel tweets he made.

“The AAUP is considered the ‘conscience’ of the U.S. academy and protector of their academic freedom,” MU’s AAUP chapter said in a statement posted on Facebook. “Violating its standards means that MU will have a difficult time recruiting and retaining the best teachers and scholars.”

“As a practical matter, it’s more embarrassing than anything else in that no university wants to be on the list,” MU Faculty Council chairman Ben Trachtenberg told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

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