As a staff of student journalists, The New Hampshire emphatically condemns University of Missouri communication and journalism faculty member Melissa Click for her actions at a Concerned Student 1950 protest on Mizzou’s Carnahan Quad Monday.
Click was recorded on video telling a student journalist to immediately vacate the (public) premises where the protest was taking place. When the student refused, Click can be heard clearly yelling, “Hey, who wants to help me get this reporter out of here? I need some muscle over here.” Appalling.
It’s as disgusting as it is ironic that an educator of young minds has the audacity to overlook the constitutionally guaranteed rights of the student journalist to be physically present on public property and tell him to leave. That’s not to mention the fact that the freedom of the press is protected under the First Amendment, something you’d think a professor with a PhD in communication from UMass Amherst would know. Her words and actions on Monday indicate that maybe that’s not the case.
However, Click did apologize Tuesday. In the disingenuous rambling that served more as a justification for her actions than a sincere apology, Click stated, “My actions were shaped by exasperation with a few spirited reporters. From this experience I have learned about humanity and humility.”
We learned something about your actions on that day, too, Dr. Click. We learned that you’re someone who shouldn’t be educating young minds, let alone the minds of our future journalists and media members.
It is never acceptable to intimidate a person, especially a student journalist, by calling for “muscle.” College campuses are places where freedom of speech and expression, especially by students, need to flow freely. What Click did was the complete opposite.
Journalism serves a vital civic purpose. Our founding fathers knew that, journalism educators and students at UNH know that, and future college students and journalists alike need to know that.
When something important happens, like a rally being held by the Concerned Student 1950 group in response to the terrifyingly unaddressed racism that has run rampant for far too long on Mizzou’s campus and in the United States as whole, the public needs and has the right to know about it. It’s equally important to note that those partaking in the rally have the same rights to express their opinions and be physically present in public space.
From what the video portrayed, the journalist was not belittling, demeaning or in any way disrupting the movement by reporting on the event’s undertakings. He was simply reporting on an event that has garnered national attention—and rightly so.
We understand that Click was emotionally charged and that her actions at Monday’s rally may not necessarily represent who she is as person. But in a time when education, especially about freedom of speech, is so crucial, students deserve better.
To students, journalists and educators out there: know your rights. Know that you are enabled by the constitution to freely and openly express yourself on public property without facing prosecution. You are allowed to gather and protest peacefully. Journalists are allowed to report what they see.
Click was right about one thing in her apology, “…my actions have shifted attention away from the students’ campaign for justice.” They sure have.
Click resigned her “courtesy appointment” as a member of Mizzou’s journalism department on Wednesday. But we here at The New Hampshire do not feel that this action is enough.
Professor Click, do the education system and the social justice movement in this country a favor, and step down from your position as an educator at the University of Missouri entirely. There’s no room for censorship.