The controversy surrounding the resigned of University of Missouri System President Tim Wolfe this week. Critics continue to debate whether Wolfe acted in a way that warranted demands for his removal while others view racial incidents on campus as the fault of the Administration. This is a worthy debate for any university. However, a recent incident should raise equally determined calls for the removal of school officials who appear to have led attacks on the media and free speech as part of student protests. Mass communications professor Melissa Click has since apologized for disgraceful conduct in attacking the media — a curious act by a mass communications professor and the antithesis of an academic committed to free speech.
A confrontation occurred as journalists, including students journalists, simply tried to cover the event. They were set upon by protesters threatening them and telling them to leave. Tim Tai, 20, is a senior at the university working on a freelance assignment for ESPN, went to the protesters’ tent encampment. Protesters insisted that he had no right to cover the event and chanted “Hey hey! Ho ho! Reporters have got to go!”
One school administrator, identified as Janna Basler, the school’s director of Greek life and leadership, is seen on the video confronting Tai. When he asks her name, Basler refused to identify herself — a problem for a school official on campus harassing a journalist. Instead, she say “I am Concerned Student 1950,” a reference to the name of the African-American group leading the protests.
Near the end of the video, another adult, identified as assistant professor of mass media Melissa Click, tells another reporter, “You need to get out.” She appears to call on other protesters to help force out the journalist. She is heard saying “Who wants to help me get this reporter out of here? I need some muscle over here.”
That is a disgrace and should have immediately raised calls for the review of both of these employees for discipline. What they were doing was joining voices of intolerance and abuse. They are the very antithesis of the mission of all academics.
Click has now apologized, stating “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.”
There is no word about Basler. The concern is the double standard at our universities. We have discussed that controversy at the University of California and Boston University, where there have been criticism of a double standard, even in the face of criminal conduct. Here you have a communications professor and an administrator seem encouraging protesters in denying a student the ability to work as a journalist on campus. Yet, there is no outcry and demands for review, let alone termination. There is a serious diminishment of free speech occurring on our campuses where a new orthodoxy is rising in the enforcement of preferred speech and positions. The intolerance shown opposing views threatens the very essence of our intellectual traditions and values. The video below vividly shows that trend.