Tuesday, June 2, 2020

MSU Sona survey features racist content, President Stanley responds

October 22, 2019
Beaumont Tower on Jan. 10, 2019.
Beaumont Tower on Jan. 10, 2019. —
Photo by Annie Barker | The State News

Michigan State is facing backlash after the university's Sona survey website included prompts containing racist, transphobic, xenophobic and homophobic slurs. The survey was meant to study evaluations of social media posts, measuring them in terms of their aggressiveness and offensiveness.

The backlash comes less than a week after an incident at Bryan Hall, in which a toilet paper noose was hung outside the door of two black residents.

Computer Science freshman Aja Stokes took the survey to receive extra credit points for her class.

"I was kind of skeptical ... I didn't screenshot the first five they had gave me because I thought it was right and they would get better, but it honestly just got worse and worse," Stokes said. "I had to call my best friend and I cried on the phone because it was really degrading."

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She said that it was only minority groups who were targeted, and any questions about white people were about having pride or being superior.

"It was always degrading to minorities, and then trying to make the white person superior," Stokes said.

President Samuel L. Stanley Jr. responded to the various racist incidents via an email sent to the university community.

"I, too, am concerned, because a safe, inclusive and respectful campus is my top priority. Hate has no home at Michigan State. We want every individual to feel welcomed, valued and heard," Stanley said in the email.

The survey was hosted by the College of Communication Arts and Sciences, according to his email.

"Some of these actions may not have grown from negative intent or malice, but it’s important for us all to remember the difference between intent and impact. Regardless of intent, there is still an impact being felt across campus," he continued in the email.

Read Stanley's letter to the community below.

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