COLUMBIA — One of the MU employees seen physically forcing a freelance photographer to move at a Concerned Student 1950 camp Monday has been placed on administrative leave, effective immediately.
Mark Lucas, director of the Department of Student Life, sent the following statement late Wednesday afternoon: "Effective Nov. 11, 2015, Janna Basler has been placed on administrative leave and relieved of her duties as Director of Greek Life while we conduct an investigation regarding her recent actions."
In a video by MU student Mark Schierbecker, which has been widely circulated, Basler is seen with her arms outstretched walking toward and eventually touching Tim Tai, a student photojournalist on assignment for ESPN. Basler issued an apology Tuesday night, saying she regretted how she handled the tense situation at the campsite and that she respected journalists. Schierbecker is a senior photographer for The Maneater, a student newspaper at MU.
The other MU employee, Melissa Click, an assistant professor in the Department of Communication, also apologized Tuesday. In the video, she is seen telling Schierbecker to leave and calling for some "muscle" to move him away from the camp.
On Wednesday night, Schierbecker said he filed a "municipal simple assault" complaint against Click with the MU Police Department. He claims she physically and verbally assaulted him.
After exchanging emails with Click, Schierbecker said he went to Switzler Hall on Tuesday to meet with Click in her office, where she apologized to him.
Schierbecker said he was accompanied by Danielle Muscato — his publicist and the former public relations director for American Atheists — and Eric Wetz, an MU student.* Schierbecker said he was not allowed to record his conversation with Click and said Wetz waited outside Click's door.
Schierbecker said he thought Basler should resign, "and if not, she needs to be removed.
"Click should also go. Even more so," he said. "That's my number one priority at the moment, is making sure she never teaches ever again."
Click resigned Tuesday night from a courtesy appointment in the Missouri School of Journalism, which allowed her to serve on graduate committees. She has also resigned from the Chancellor's Student Publications Committee.
Another MU employee appearing in Schierbecker's video has been identified as Richard "Chip" Callahan, who chairs MU's Department of Religious Studies. In the video, Callahan can be seen talking to Tai and raising his arms to block Tai's camera view.
Tai said in an interview Tuesday that Callahan and Click have apologized to him. Tai said he had "a good conversation" with Callahan and that he harbored "no hard feelings" toward either professor.
Tai said that Basler also apologized to him when the two met on Wednesday afternoon at the MU Student Recreation Complex.
Title IX complaint
After seeing the video, Brian Brooks, a former associate dean of the Missouri School of Journalism, filed formal complaints against Basler and Click with the Title IX office at MU.
Brooks said Wednesday he filed reports early Tuesday afternoon, adding Wednesday that he hadn't received a response from the office. As a part-time MU employee, Brooks is a mandated reporter of possible Title IX incidents, which involve discrimination based on sex.
"The university gave all of us training based on Title IX, and any kind of harassment was to be reported," Brooks said in an interview Wednesday.
He said Click "has proven herself unfit to teach at the University of Missouri."
He said a non-MU attorney had since told him the incident didn't qualify as a Title IX offense, which he said was "probably true, but if it is, it's a serious hole in Title IX. Racial harassment is what I would call it."
Brooks said he'd seen the video several times and said he considered Basler to have committed assault and battery against Tai, and Click to have verbally assaulted Schierbecker. He said the case could be made that because Tai was pushed, battery occurred.
"Apparently, in the eyes of MU, it is OK for a staff member or faculty member to assault a student without ramifications," Brooks said Wednesday in an email. "At the very least, the two should have been suspended Monday pending completion of an investigation."
Attempts to contact Basler, Click, Lucas, MU spokesman Christian Basi, MU Title IX Director Ellen Eardley and MU Police Department Maj. Brian Weimer were unsuccessful.
Brooks said he had not spoken to an attorney about whether Basler's or Click's actions qualified as assault or battery. He said he took issue with their behavior because they acted to escalate the interaction between press and protesters, saying Basler and Click "effectively tried to incite a riot."
He said this was the first Title IX complaint he had filed since he became a mandatory reporter at MU and said he hopes MU "gets serious about dealing with racism" as a result of his report.
"I think the (Concerned Student 1950) group has outlined a lot of things that could possibly be done, including more diversity training," he said. "I also think the university needs to deal more forcefully when incidents are right there in front of them. ... Looks like to me, you've got video. It's a cut-and-dried case."
Brooks said he was particularly emotional after watching the video because he recruited Tai to MU.
"I know (Tai) and I know what a good student he is," he said. "It just pains me to see him treated that way, right in the shadow of Jesse Hall."
Supervising editor is Elizabeth Brixey.