First Amendment Defenders Launches to Center Free Speech Efforts at Mizzou

Mark Schierbecker

Group Founded by Student at Center of Melissa Click Video Debate

March 2, 2016 (Columbia, MO) – University of Missouri First Amendment Defenders, a student group, launched today to advance freedom of speech on campus. The group is led by journalist Mark Schierbecker, whose viral video of the encounter between the media and a racial protest group in November 2015 culminated in the February 2016 firing of communication professor Melissa Click.

“The November protests should have been a sure test for student free speech,” said Schierbecker. “Instead protesters pitted themselves against journalists’ right to free speech – negating the message.”

MU 1AD will support Missouri "New Voices" legislation that would halt prior restraint of student journalism. This builds on the legislative progress last year that has guaranteed students the legal right to use campus public spaces for free speech. In addition, MU 1AD is working with the Washington-based Student Press Law Center to draft language for a media shield law

During racial protests on Nov. 9, 2015, protesters sought to exclude the media from a public space. A day later a university bulletin directed students to report "hateful or harmful speech" to campus police. Student conduct investigations are commonly used against students engaged in protected free speech. To solve this problem MU 1AD plans to be an advocate for students pitched in unfair speech battles with the university.

Foundation for Individual Rights in Education currently assigns Mizzou a “red light” rating for its restrictive free speech policies, its worst rating. Visit to learn more.