- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 11, 2015

An associate professor at the University of Missouri has resigned following backlash after he refused to cancel an exam for students who claimed to feel unsafe, the latest twist in turmoil that is increasingly being seen as a threat to free speech on campus.

“If you don’t feel safe coming to class, then don’t come to class,” Dale E. Brigham, an associate professor at the school’s Department of Nutrition and Exercise Physiology, initially told students in an email, Campus Reform reported.

“I will be there, and there will be an exam administered in our class,” he said. “If you give into bullies, they win. The only way bullies are defeated is by standing up to them. If we cancel the exam, they win; if we go through with it, they lose. I know which side I am on. You make your own choice.”

Mr. Brigham quickly made headlines for his stance, with many on social media calling for him to be fired.

According to screenshots posted online Wednesday of a second email from Mr. Brigham to his students, the exam has been canceled and he is resigning from his position.

“The exam is cancelled. Our students will be able to take the exam at an alternate date with no loss of points,” the email read. “No one will have to come to class today. And, I am resigning my position.”

The resignation — there was no immediate word Wednesday on when the university would accept it — was one of a series of events that have free speech and civil liberties advocates increasingly concerned about the atmosphere on the campus.

The previous week of racial turmoil already had led to the resignations of university President Tim Wolfe and Chancellor R. Bowen Loftin on Monday.

On Tuesday the campus police department sent an email to students telling them how to report “hateful and/or hurtful” speech, even if it isn’t illegal, because the speakers could still be punished by the Office of Student Conduct.

The code’s “harassment” provision defines that act as “unwelcome verbal or physical conduct” related to “actual or perceived membership in a protected class … that creates a hostile environment.”

The American Civil Liberties Union of Missouri said in a statement that “mistakenly addressing symptoms — instead of causes — and doing it in a way that runs counter to the First Amendment is not the wise or appropriate response.”

The campus chapter of Young Americans for Liberty responded to the police solicitation by setting up a “free speech wall” on campus Wednesday.

“Basically, if your feelings are hurt, the police are going to crack down on whoever hurt your feelings,” Ian Paris, the Missouri chapter’s president, told The Associated Press. “I think that’s terrifying, because I have opinions every single day that people find offensive or hurt their feelings because I disagree with them.”

Also this week, a video that went viral showed an assistant professor in the communications department, who held a courtesy appointment with the school’s highly regarded journalism school, soliciting force to stop student journalist Mark Schierbecker from covering a public demonstration.

Melissa Click told him “you need to go” repeatedly, trying to cover the camera lens with her hand, and scoffing “that’s a really good one” at his correctly noting that this was public property.

She also solicited help to make Mr. Schierbecker leave, asking “Who wants to help me get this reporter out of here? I need some muscle over here.”

Ms. Click later apologized and resigned her journalism school post, though she is still with the communications department.

Another university employee shown on tape helping Ms. Click’s efforts to prevent coverage was put on administrative leave Wednesday. Janna Basler, the school’s director of Greek life, is being investigated for her actions by the student life department.

Also Wednesday, a 19-year-old white man was arrested on charges of posting online threats to go to the Columbia campus and “shoot every black person I see.”

Hunter Park was arrested at 1:50 a.m. at a dorm at the Missouri University of Science and Technology, a sister campus in Rolla located about 75 miles away, the University of Missouri Police Department said in a statement.

Mr. Park, who has not yet been formally charged but was being held on bond because of the Veterans Day holiday, posted the threat via the anonymous social media app Yik Yak on Tuesday night, according to authorities.

⦁ Kellan Howell contributed to this article, which is based in part on wire service reports.


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