How Faculty Can Protect Free Speech

Last week, the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) unanimously voted to censure the University of Missouri for how it handled the firing of Melissa Click.

Click, formerly a communications professor at the University of Missouri, received national attention when she was recorded asking for “muscle” to prevent a student journalist from covering a campus protest. As Colleen Flaherty reports for Inside Higher Ed, many members of the AAUP did not condone Click’s behavior, but an investigation by the organization concluded that the decision to fire her, made by the Board of Curators without a hearing before a faculty body, “compromised academic freedom for all on campus.”

According to Flaherty, in a statement from the University board chair Pam Henrickson, the decision to fire Click came only “after existing faculty processes failed to address her misconduct.”

Click’s harassment of a student journalist, captured on video, is troubling. However, maintaining a faculty role in deciding cases of this sort is important because it serves as a safeguard for academic freedom, ensuring that professors are not fired because of the views they express.

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