- Associated Press - Thursday, February 11, 2016

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - The University of Missouri system’s budget would be frozen under a spending plan passed by in a House committee, whose chairwoman blamed the system for not properly handling of recent race-related protests.

The plan includes a 2 percent increase for state colleges and universities, except for the four-campus University of Missouri system, the Columbia Daily Tribune reported.

State Rep. Donna Lichtenegger, R-Jackson, who heads the House Appropriations-Higher Education Committee, said Wednesday that the exclusion is due to Melissa Click - an assistant communications professor at the Columbia campus - still being employed despite her suspension over a run-in with a student videographer during race-related protests in November.

Lichtenegger also cited the failure by the university system’s governing curators to quash a protest by black, pro-Click demonstrators during the board’s meetings last week in Columbia.

“They are there to learn, not to protest all day long,” Lichtenegger said. “I thought we learned that lesson in the ‘60s. Obviously we haven’t. When the curators didn’t immediately do something about that problem, that was kind of the last stroke for me.”

Columbia Democratic Rep. Stephen Webber countered her argument: “Retaliatory action by the Legislature is not going to be felt by administrators.”

The appropriation bills now move to the House Budget Committee, which will make more changes before the bills go to the House for debate.

The university, which is getting $434 million in state support this fiscal year, was to receive a $26.8 million budget increase under Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon’s spending proposal. By the time all amendments were considered Wednesday, the committee cut Nixon’s $55.8 million overall proposal for increased state aid to colleges and universities to $9.9 million.

The University of Missouri’s tensions with the state Legislature intensified after the November protests spurred by what activists said was administrators’ indifference to racial issues. The Columbia chancellor and system president resigned after the protests escalated, which included one student’s hunger strike and the response to that strike by members of the football team, who said they’d refuse to play.

A video of one of the protests showed Click calling for “some muscle” to remove a student videographer from the protest area.

She told KMIZ-TV on Wednesday that she felt compelled to confront him, citing a lack of campus police, and insisted she wasn’t calling for violence.

“I’m hoping that the people who watch this interview will be able to identify with saying something in a hectic and flustering moment,” Click said. “I feel sorry. I feel embarrassed by my actions.”

Click claims the videographer never identified himself as a student or a journalist, but in the video, the student says he’s with the media as he approaches her. Click was charged with misdemeanor assault, but a Columbia prosecutor says he’ll drop the matter if she completes community service.

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