Professor’s survey in Michigan criticized for racist remarks

EAST LANSING, Mich. (AP) — A survey by a Michigan State University professor to determine how people respond to derogatory online comments has been removed from a school website after sparking outrage because it included racist statements.

The Lansing State Journal reported that Saleem Alhabash, an associate professor of public relations and social media, sent his survey to select students Monday. The survey asked students to rate statements taken directly from social media and other online sites.

Several students told the newspaper that the statements targeted blacks, Asians, Muslims and the LGBTQ community.

Alhabash apologized for the survey, adding it wasn’t meant to hurt anyone. He removed it from a Michigan State website in response to the concerns over it.

The survey included a disclaimer, explaining the objective was to “evaluate the level of aggressiveness for some statements that have been taken from the popular social media platforms.”

Michigan State student Mya Jones, who is black, said the disclaimer was not a fair enough warning.

“The survey still included such racial slurs and profanities and stereotypes,” she said, adding that she doesn’t feel safe.

The survey was circulated a few days after a black student reported that someone taped what appeared to be a noose made from toilet paper on her dormitory room door, according to the newspaper.

Michigan State President Samuel Stanley sent a letter to students, faculty, staff and alumni Tuesday, saying the survey and noose incident “have disrupted a sense of safety that should exist for everyone.”

“Building inclusive communities is at the core of our values, and the impact of recent events cannot be underestimated,” Stanley wrote.

He added that the university’s police and Office of Institutional Equity are conducting investigations.

Alhabash, the professor, said he plans to continue his research.

“At some point, we have to acknowledge that these are things that exist in the real world,” he said. “It is very sad to say it was not very hard to find these posts online.”


Information from: Lansing State Journal,

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