A Missouri state senator wants to see quicker action by the University of Missouri to address two people who “discredited” the school, and the state, last fall.
Senator Paul Wieland, R-Imperial, filed a formal complaint with interim MU chancellor Hank Foley Wednesday night against Dr. Melissa Click, the assistant communications professor involved in two tense protests in October and November. Columbia police body camera video shows Click cursing at a police officer as they tried moving protestors off the street during the Homecoming parade. A journalist also recorded Click trying to call for “muscle” to remove him from the Carnahan Quad on November 9, the height of campus protests in Columbia. Click told ABC 17 News she was trying to defend the students participating in the protests.
Wieland said people living in his district, made up primarily of Jefferson County, thought former Mizzou football coach Gary Pinkel embarrassed the school when he supported the team’s November holdout in solidarity with the November protests. While Pinkel distanced himself later from the demands of the student group Concerned Student 1950, he said he wanted to support his team in an issue important to them.
Wieland filed his formal complaint with MU chancellor Hank Foley at Wednesday night’s Joint Committee on Education hearing. The senator told ABC 17 News once the committee learned the process set out in the UM System’s Collected Rules and Regulations, he wanted to get to work right away on starting that process for Click. Foley told the committee that the school had not taken disciplinary action against Click, despite a third-degree assault charge filed last month, because no one had filed a formal complaint.
“I think it’s cumbersome,” Wieland said of the school’s process. “I think it’s typical of government bureaucracy.”
Under the rules for complaints against faculty, it’s up to the provost of academic affairs to field the charges and forward them to the faculty member’s department if deemed worthy of investigation. The complaint then goes a lengthy process, involving several different committees and interviews with the “accused” and the “accuser,” ultimately ending up on the chancellor’s desk for a final decision.
The rules, however, stipulate that complaints can only be brought “by a person or group of persons associated with the University, such as a student, faculty member, teacher, administrator, or board member.” The statute does not specify if members of the legislature, a funding source for the public university, had any recourse to file a complaint. Wieland said he would not be surprised if the university turned the complaint away, but wanted to test the rarely-used system of punishment.
“They can say like they did last night, ‘We appreciate that letter from 100 members of the body, or from the legislature, but technically, no one’s filed a complaint yet,'” Wieland said. “So, to me, that is totally using this whole bureaucratic system to their advantage to say we don’t have to do anything.”
“Until I see an action, that’s all talk.”
Wieland said he would continue to investigate whether Pinkel had actually done anything wrong to warrant a complaint in the same manner as Click’s. He said many of his constituents wanted to see Pinkel “held accountable” for “holding the school hostage” by supporting the team’s boycott.
“And now they’re going to ‘reward’ him for his behavior by giving him a three-year, million dollar contract,” Wieland said. “That makes my constituents furious.”
Wieland said while the situation was clear to him that Click “discredited” the school, he felt Pinkel’s actions were more of a “gray area.”
“As I read through the rules and regulations, I may file a complaint on him for doing that.”