After Melissa Click, Higher Ed Reforms Must Stay on Course
News broke late last week that embattled Mizzou professor Melissa Click has been fired from her job by the state's Board of Curators. You'll remember that Click was the teacher who demanded "muscle" against a student during last year's student protests, and who was caught in recently-released body cam footage verbally assaulting law enforcement earlier that fall.
Click may appeal the Board's decision, but whatever the outcome there, Click's case was always very separate from the important policy issues her behavior brought into focus. Policymakers should recognize that Click is a symptom of the broken campus culture at Mizzou, not the cause of it. Accordingly, legislators should not take their eyes off the reform ball that's already started rolling this session.
- Along with a host of other transparency measures, professors at Missouri universities should have to make their course syllabi available to the public. The idea that taxpayers don't have a right to see what they're paying for is ludicrous and anti-democratic. Our universities are there to act as stewards of taxpayer money to educate students so that they can be productive, informed, engaged members of society; taxpayers should be able to see the fruits of that investment.
- Mizzou is an important institution, but Mizzou is not "owed" money by taxpayers; rather, it and all state universities owe taxpayers a duty to earn every dollar they receive. That's also why regular audits of the school are also eminently reasonable.
- Policymakers should also decide whether Mizzou should have the privilege of acting as a bottleneck to degree programs across the state. Universities in every region of Missouri are providing valuable and innovative educations to students already. Why should Mizzou have effective veto authority over the degree decisions of other institutions? Maintaining this status quo seems unwise and exceedingly risky.
Melissa Click represented problems that have institutionally bedeviled the University for years, and her departure should signal not just the end of her tenure, but the beginning of a round of higher ed reforms that taxpayers can be proud of. After all of the embarrassments Mizzou brought to the state last year, that would be a welcome change of pace.