25.3.16

HOW TO DO THINGS DECENTLY AND IN ORDER.

The board of curators of Missouri-Columbia recently fired assistant communication studies professor Melissa Click in a vote taken independently of existing tenure review procedures.  That has brought in the American Association of University Professors, and court proceedings seem likely.

In January, the American Council of Trustees and Alumni suggested a course of action that might have preempted the litigation.
In the interest of due process and of accountability to the people of Missouri, we call on the Board to insist that Professor Click’s recent behavior on campus be given full and rigorous review and be made a part of her tenure portfolio.
Perhaps the curators had to act in the way they did out of fear that the academic villages would have stood with their embattled rabble-rouser.  It might be to that point that a subsequent paragraph speaks.
Given the recent widespread public attention to the University, the Board has an opportunity to show leadership by articulating the University’s absolute commitment to freedom of inquiry, freedom of the press, and freedom of speech. The University would do well to reiterate these principles at convocations, during freshman orientations, and in course catalogs and syllabi. In doing so, the University of Missouri will align itself with the best practices of academic life. The American Council on Education has stated, “Intellectual pluralism and academic freedom are central principles of American higher education.” The American Association of University Professors has called on the professoriate to honor their obligations toward students: “Professors demonstrate respect for students as individuals and adhere to their proper roles as intellectual guides and counselors,” and “professors show due respect for the opinions of others.”
That train might have long ago left the station, with going on thirty years of "protected classes" and speech codes and safe spaces and trigger warnings and microaggressions and all the other manifestations of "liberating tolerance."  I'll be happy to report that the climate is changing in the favor of more freewheeling play with ideas, but I don't expect to see that any time soon.

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