Wednesday, September 23, 2020

ASMSU calls to remove Stephen Hsu as Research VP

June 19, 2020
<p>ASMSU holds a General Assembly meeting Feb. 27, 2020.</p>

ASMSU holds a General Assembly meeting Feb. 27, 2020.

Photo by Jack Falinski | The State News

The Associated Students of Michigan State University, or ASMSU, passed a resolution advocating the removal of Stephen Hsu as vice president of research and innovation in a special summer meeting held Thursday on Zoom.

The resolution calls for Hsu to be removed from his position as vice president of research and innovation while maintaining his tenure as a professor and for the university to conduct further bias investigations into his decisions.

It was proposed following multiple petitions circulating calling for his removal, criticizing his racist, sexist, and eugenicist views, as highlighted by the Graduate Employees Union, or GEU, and MSU faculty.

A petition and open letter in support of Hsu began circulating shortly after.

The bill was introduced by Asian Pacific American Students Organization, or APASO, and seconded by the Black Student Alliance, or BSA and passed with voice majority and one abstention.

The original language of the bill called for Hsu to be fired, cutting all ties from the university entirely, which spurred discussion amongst the General Assembly.

College of Natural Science Rep. Aubrey Hanes said while these comments don't align with university or ASMSU values, they were made under a personal account, which is free speech under the First Amendment.

"Firing or saying that he should be fired might not be the best stance to take," Hanes said.

The Graduate Employees Union, or GEU, called for Hsu to be removed from his vice president position, while writers of the bill wished to remove him from his tenure in the physics department as well.

"The reason, when I talked to some professors who signed and are in the GEU, why they only say remove as VP is because of academic freedom," APASO Rep. Chloe Majzel said. "Our reasoning behind the bill was because he is not open to all students, not welcoming, and competent in every single student's abilities."

Kellie Walker of the Council of Students with Disabilities, or CSD, representing students with disabilities on campus, addressed Hsu's research in eugenics.

"He has made some ableist comments, and his research is for eliminating people with disabilities because he's selecting against it. He thinks that they are like minorities and less capable, as he's made with race comments as well," Walker said. "He is a vice president. He is representing the research division in that sense and we can't have somebody at that level openly saying that people are inferior to others when this university is supposed to be about inclusivity."

The amendment to advocate for further bias investigations rather than beginning the process of revoking tenure was met with a split 14-14 vote, leaving President Abii-Tah Bih to make a tie-breaking vote in favor.

If it is found that his personal beliefs biased his work, then MSU should fire Hsu, the resolution says. The final bill passed nearly unanimously, with one abstention.

The discussion of this resolution fell similar to that of an earlier bill, which called for MSU to hold donors accountable and remove Larry Gaynor’s name from the Gaynor Entrepreneurship Lab in Broad Business College following racist comments toward Vietnamese communities. A few members argued it would be unfair for his name to be removed when he gave the donation.

"Kind of similar to the Larry Gaynor situation where MSU needs to put its money where its mouth is and say we will not accept people and we will not continue to support people who go directly against our values," Women's Council President Dani James said.

The bill highlighted Gaynor, an MSU alumnus and CEO of TNG Worldwide, a beauty products company, who made a $3 million donation to the university for an entrepreneurship lab in the Broad Business College in his name.

Following his offensive remarks against the Vietnamese and Vietnamese American communities during a webinar, ASMSU called for his name to be removed from the entrepreneurship lab and for MSU to make a public statement condemning his actions.

This bill passed with voice majority as well.

ASMSU will hold two more summer meetings on July 16 and Aug. 20, as called by Bih in light of the turbulent current events.

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