An administrator at the University of Missouri has been placed on administrative leave and removed from her position as director of Greek life after a video was posted online showing her trying to prevent a student journalist from covering the protests on the school’s Columbia campus.
Janna Basler is seen confronting the journalist, Tim Tai, along with a group of protesters, telling him that he has to leave the area, which is a public quad.
Basler has apologized:
“We are focused on securing her family’s safety right now,” Angela Dahman, communications director for the university’s Student Affairs, said in an email to the newspaper.
Student Life Director Mark Lucas said in a statement to the Missourian he and Cathy Scroggs, vice chancellor of student affairs, are reviewing the videos “and will be having conversations with individuals present in order to understand what happened.”
The protests on Monday were led by a group called Concerned Student 1950 (a reference to the year the university first admitted black students), who were outraged over the way the university’s administration handled a series of racist events on campus, including slurs directed toward the student body president and a swastika made out of feces that was found in a dorm. The protests, along with a boycott by the school’s football team and a hunger strike by a graduate student, led to the resignation of the university’s president, Tim Wolfe.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Basler Told the Student Journalist He Needed to ‘Back Off’
Basler is seen confronting and blocking a student journalist, Tim Tai, who was talking to students who wanted him to leave the area. She is seen telling Tai, “You need to back off.” She also appears to shove Tai, and puts her hand in front of his face.
When Tai asks her name, she says, “I am Concerned Student 1950.”
Tai tells the other students and Basler he has a “job to do.”
She responds, “They have a life to live, they have an education to get and a life to live.”
Tai tweeted about the reaction to the video:
The university has not responded to requests for comment about the actions of the professor and administrator.
2. A Communications Professor Is Also Facing Social Media Backlash
Communications professor Melissa Click can be heard and briefly seen at the beginning of the video, screaming, “you need to back up if you are with the media,” while student journalist Tim Tai is confronted by a group of protesters while he is taking photos.
“You need to back up, respect the students,” Click says. “BACK UP! They have asked you to respect their space, move back. This is their time. You need to step out of here now. You need to go.”
Click appears in the video again at the end, at about the 6:18 mark when she tells the student photographer filming the incident, Mark Schierbecker, who was asking a student if she wanted to be interviewed, that he has to “get out.”
Schierbecker says “no I don’t,” have to leave the area, and Click responds by grabbing his camera and again telling him to “get out.”
After he again refuses, she steps away and yells out, “Hey who wants to help me get this reporter out of here. I need some muscle over here!”
Read more about Click at the link below:
3. Basler Works in the University’s Student Life Office
Basler earns $67,812 a year as the assistant director in the Student Life office. In her role she is the director of Greek Life and Leadership, according to the university’s website.
Basler’s duties include overseeing Greek Life as well as leadership, experiential education and community service. Basler, who worked as the Greek coordinator for Western Illinois University, said a main reason she came to MU was that the job was multifaceted.
She oversees “leadership, experiential education and community service,” according to the Maneater, the student newspaper at Missouri.
4. She Came to Missouri in 2001 After Working at Western Illinois University
Basler was hired in 2001 to be the director of Greek Life at Missouri, after holding the same position at Western Illinois University, the Maneater, the student newspaper at Mizzou, reported at the time.
She is originally from Oregon, according to her Facebook page.
“I loved this job because it’s not only Greek,” Basler told the Maneater. “I get to work with recreation and community service as well.”
Chris Linder, who hired Basler, told the paper, “She has a dynamic personality and lots of enthusiasm.”
5. The Organizers of Concerned Student 1950 Have Asked the Media to Stay Out of Their ‘Safe Space’
The hunger strike and football players’ boycott drew the national media, along with local media and student journalists, to Columbia to cover the on-campus protests. After Tim Wolfe stepped down, some of the media attempting to cover the Concerned Student 1950 protests and the student protesters clashed on the university’s quad.
The students put out signs saying “no media,” and chanted “reporters have to go,” at the journalists while linking arms to form a shield.
Concerned Student 1950 said on Twitter the camp site where they were protesting is there “safe space” and asked the media not to interfere.
Members of the media said on Twitter that the campus quad is a public space, and they were trying to do their jobs and cover the story.
On Tuesday, the protest’s organizers took down the “no media” signs and welcome the press in.