MSU's new president, on the job less than three months, responds to a set of racial incidents that provoked a student meeting Tuesday night.
"These situations have disrupted a sense of safety," Samuel L. Stanley, Jr. acknowledges in a 10-paragraph "Dear Spartans" letter. He says they "are being taken seriously" and warns: "Any member of the MSU community found responsible for a bias incident will face disciplinary action."
WXYZ tells what's behind the letter and campus gathering:
Some of the controversy stems from a survey on an MSU website that included racist and offensive statements targeting black people, the LGBTQ community, Muslims and Asians.
Earlier, Rudy Harper of the station reports, "a black student found a noose hung on the handle of a dorm room door. . . . Some of the student leaders say the university has a systemic racism issue."
"We're not being heard," one student said [at Tuesday's forum]. "We've been saying the same thing for years."
The evening discussion was organized by the Black Students' Alliance at MSU in collaboration with Associated Students of MSU, the undergraduate government organiztion.
Recent incidents also include vandalism at MSU HIllel, a Jewish center on campus.
In his open letter, Stanley says:
"I, too, am concerned, because a safe, inclusive and respectful campus is my top priority. Hate has no home at Michigan State. . . .
"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."
The online survey, an extra-credit research project, was meant to study evaluations of social media posts and gauge their aggressiveness and offensiveness. The questions came directly from social media, its instructor tells WXYZ.
"There was no ill intent in any way, shape or form," says Associate Professor Saleem Alhabash, associate professor of public relations and social media in the Department of Advertising and Public Relations. "We do realize the impact . . . and we deeply apologize."