Wednesday, April 8, 2020

MSU police not investigating anonymous racist comments from 'Ask President Stanley'

February 28, 2020
<p>Students gathered to ask President Stanley questions about university related topics during the Ask Stanley Q&amp;A hosted in the Business College Complex on Feb. 18, 2020.</p>

Students gathered to ask President Stanley questions about university related topics during the Ask Stanley Q&A hosted in the Business College Complex on Feb. 18, 2020.

Photo by Lauren DeMay | The State News

After racist comments were made at an 'Ask President Stanley' event, Mario Kakos, president of ASMSU, or the Associated Students of Michigan State University, said MSU Police were investigating the IP addresses of anonymous comments.

This drew a complaint from FIRE, or the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, who sent a letter to the police department.

“FIRE is concerned by a report that the Michigan State University (MSU) Police Department is seeking to obtain the IP addresses on anonymous users whose comments during an online forum with MSU’s president were perceived as “racist and hateful.” We’re writing to ask that you clarify that the MSU Police Department will not seek identifying information of those whose online speech, however offensive to others, is protected by the First Amendment.”

MSUPD Captain Doug Monette said they wouldn't investigate the identity of the students.

“After reviewing the information that was posted during the event, they determined it was not criminal,” Monette said. 

On Feb. 17, ASMSU hosted an online question-and-answer session with President Samuel L. Stanley Jr. The forum allowed students to submit anonymous questions for Stanley to answer. 

During the event, numerous anonymous comments were received and condemned as racist. After the comments had been received, ASMSU reached out to the MSU Police Department to find the IP addresses of the commenters. 

"FIRE, the foundation for individual rights in education, ... addressed a letter to Michigan State University Police Department, cc myself, explaining the reasoning in terms of why the IP addresses should not be pursued," Kakos said. "They will not be further pursued — the IP addresses — based on free speech."

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