An assistant communications professor at the Missouri School of Journalism resigned from her courtesy appointment with the school Tuesday after she was caught on video in a confrontation between a student journalist and protesters attempting to block him from shooting photos on a public quad.
The video, showing University of Missouri protesters and Assistant Professor Melissa Click, was posted on Youtube shortly after University of Missouri System President Tim Wolfe resigned following a week of protests after his perceived lack of response to a series of racially-charged incidents.
Click’s courtesy appointment allowed her to serve on graduate panels for students from other academic units, according to the Columbia Missourian. Her position as mass media professor in the Communication Department remains unclear.
The Los Angeles Times reported that Tim Tai, a 20-year-old senior at the university working on a freelance assignment for ESPN, went to the protesters’ encampment to document their reaction to the news.
Shortly after Tai arrived and began to take photos, the protesters formed a ring around the encampment and began to push away the assembled media. Tai refused to budge.
In the video, Tai tells one demonstrator that he has “a job to do! I’m documenting this for a national news organization. This is the First Amendment that protects your right to stand here and mine!”
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 says, “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 Click, tells another reporter, “You need to get out,” before asking other protesters for help.
“Who wants to help me get this reporter out of here?” she asks, adding as the video ends, “I need some muscle over here.”
Dean of the Missouri School of Journalism David Kurpius announced Click’s resignation on his Twitter account late Tuesday.
Click issued an apology after reviewing the video, saying she “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,” she wrote in her statement.
“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,” Click said. “I believe he is doing a difficult job, and I am grateful to have had the opportunity to speak with him.”
Earlier on Tuesday, Kurpius lambasted Click while lauding the photojournalist.
“The Missouri School of Journalism is proud of photojournalism senior Tim Tai for how he handled himself during a protest on Carnahan Quad on the University of Missouri campus,” Kurpius said in Tuesday’s statement.
“The news media have First Amendment rights to cover public events,” Kurpius said. “Tai handled himself professionally and with poise.”
Tom Warhover, the executive editor of the Columbia Missourian, a university newspaper, told the Times he was “pretty incensed” about Tai’s treatment.
“I find it ironic that particularly faculty members would resort to those kinds of things for no good reason. I understand students who are protesting and want privacy. But they are not allowed to push and assault our photographers — our student photographers.”
Tai told the Los Angeles Times the situation resembled last year’s protests in Ferguson, Mo., which he also covered. The only difference, he said, was “it was the police doing it then.”(Fox News)
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