Mizzou Board says no to Melissa Click’s termination appeal
The University of Missouri’s (Mizzou) Board of Curators rejected former professor Melissa Click’s appeal Tuesday after finding she had no grounds to assault a student journalist during a November protest.
“The Board reiterates that it is your conduct that is the reason for termination of your employment,” the Board wrote to Click. “Specifically, your employment is being terminated based on the instances of conduct addressed in the Board’s February 25 letter, including conduct that interfered with the rights of others, not based on any exercise of rights on your part.”
In her appeal, Click claimed her termination was a violation of both her academic freedom and First Amendment rights.
“In my participation and in my actions on both days I firmly believe I was exercising my protected rights as a United States citizen and a citizen of the state of Missouri. I steadfastly believe it would be a violation of my First Amendment rights and my rights to academic freedom to suggest that my interactions on either day provide grounds for the termination of my employment.”
In November, Click was the subject of a viral video that showed her calling on nearby students to forcibly remove a student journalist attempting to document the public protests on campus. The video shows Click swinging at the student’s camera and even calling out for “some muscle” to remove him. Her conduct eventually led to an assault charge that was later dropped by the county prosecutor in exchange for community service.
Just when things were beginning to settle, another video of Click surfaced. This time, a police officer’s body camera captured Click at a separate on-campus protest.
“Get your fucking hands off me” Click shouted in the video at a police officer who placed his hand on her shoulder.
Shortly after the second video was released, the Board voted to fire Click from her post in the school’s communications department.
“Dr. Click was not entitled to interfere with the rights of others, to confront members of law enforcement or to encourage potential physical intimidation against a student,” the Board wrote in its decision.
In response, Click argued that such a sudden termination was a clear violation of her due process rights.
“Additionally, I believe that your decision to terminate my employment without due process in the form of a fair hearing by a faculty body violates my contract of employment with the University of Missouri,” Click wrote in her appeal.
She even garnered the support of the American Association of University Professors, who argued that the dismissal of a faculty member “with indefinite tenure or a probationary faculty member within the term of appointment absent demonstration of cause in an adjudicative hearing before an elected faculty body is an action fundamentally at odds with basic standards of academic due process.”
The university, however, is standing by its decision to terminate Click.
“[The Board] has taken into account your discussion of the reasons for your actions and considered the information offered by individuals you identified,” the Board wrote in its rejection of Click’s appeal. “The Board also has considered your assertion that you appreciate the seriousness of your conduct. However, the essential facts of what occurred on October 10, 2015 and November 9, 2015 are not in dispute.”
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