The University of Missouri professor at the center of a growing backlash for her confrontation with members of the media during a protest Monday on campus has stepped down from her courtesy appointment in the journalism school, according to a new report. Melissa Click, who taught at the Missouri School of Journalism but is keeping her post teaching mass media in the university's communications department, was caught on video inciting a physical confrontation with student reporters, urging people to help her remove them from the area where the protest was taking place.
“Hey, who wants to help me get this reporter out of here! I need some muscle over here!” Click is seen yelling on camera.
The faculty of the Missouri School of Journalism convened an emergency meeting Tuesday afternoon to consider relieving Click of her courtesy appointment before she announced her own resignation, according to the Columbia Missourian. The Missouri School of Journalism and the main university's communications department are separate from one another.
Dean David Kurpius, a member of the Journalism School's executive committee, provided a glimpse of what took place in the meeting behind closed doors.
— Kurp (@Kurp) November 11, 2015
"She's not a bad person," Kurpius said, according to the Missourian. "She wanted to explain what happened. I thought it was very appropriate. She was intelligent and thoughtful and apologetic for many of the things that had happened."
Monday's protest followed a contentious series of events that revolved around allegations of racial tension on campus and campus officials' alleged inaction. After a student activist launched a hunger strike and the school's football team threatened to stop playing -- a move which would have cost the school at least $1 million in forfeiture funds -- unless the university's top official quit, University of Missouri President Tim Wolfe announced his resignation Monday.
Students rejoiced, but the protests persisted on campus, setting up the confrontation between Click and the student journalists.
Kurpius said "horrific threats" had been directed at Click, who issued a formal apology Tuesday ahead of her resignation.
Yesterday was an historic day at MU -- full of emotion and confusion. I have reviewed and reflected upon the video of me that is circulating, and have written this statement to offer both apology and context for my actions. I have reached out to the journalists involved to offer my sincere apologies and to express regret over my actions. 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.
From this experience I have learned about humanity and humility. When I apologized to one of the reporters in a phone call this afternoon, he accepted my apology. I believe he is doing a difficult job, and I am grateful to have had the opportunity to speak with him. His dignity also speaks well to the Journalism program at MU. Again, I wish to express my sincere apology for my actions on Carnahan Quad yesterday.
African-American students and alumni of the University of Missouri told International Business Times that there have been longstanding racial tensions on campus, including recent allegations that black students were called the N-word on campus and a swastika was found smeared in feces on a bathroom wall in a residential hall.
Following Wolfe's resignation, the school on Tuesday named its first-ever chief diversity, inclusion and equity officer.