University of Mo. journalism committee votes on professor’s assignment after controversial YouTube video

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COLUMBIA, Mo. — Faculty at the University of Missouri School of Journalism were to vote Tuesday on whether Melissa Click, an assistant professor in MU’s Department of Communication, should have her appointment revoked.

A video showing a photographer’s clash with University of Missouri protesters who tried to block his access in a public section of campus is fanning debate about freedom of the press. The video involving freelance photographer Tim Tai was filmed the day the University of Missouri system’s president and the Columbia campus’ chancellor stepped down over what protesters saw as indifference to racial tensions at the school.

It shows protesters arguing with Tai and pushing him away after Tai tells them he has a right to document the event.

A woman identified as communications assistant professor Melissa Click tries to recruit “muscle” to remove the man filming the confrontation. She didn’t respond to messages seeking comment.

The video had been viewed 510,000 times on YouTube as of Tuesday morning.

According to the Columbia Missourian, some members of the journalism school’s executive committee have said Click’s actions are a clear violation of First Amendment rights. Click teaches mass media in the Department of Communications, which is part of MU’s College of Arts & Science. However, her courtesy appointment allowed her to serve on graduate committees of students from the School of Journalism.

In an interview with the Columbia Missourian, Dean David Kurpius said it was the responsibility of any faculty member to “support the First Amendment rights of all students and staff.”