Students outraged over MSU response

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EAST LANSING, MI (WILX) -- Students are outraged with Michigan State University's response to a recent controversial incident on campus that officials called a "Halloween prank."

MSU is responding Monday after an item representing a hate crime was found on the outside of a dormitory door. (Source WILX)

Students say the image of what appears to be a noose hanging on a dorm room door is no laughing matter.

"Like all the black students on campus, it's not a safe environment. We don't feel safe. We don't feel welcomed," said Blair Baker, an MSU student.

An image of what appears to be a noose made out of toilet paper is behind the outrage.

"The noose. It's a noose. It's not a Halloween prank. It's not anything like that so they need to stop sweeping stuff under the rug," said Sharron Reed-Davis, MSU Black Student Alliance president.

The Black Student Alliance held a forum Tuesday night to speak out against what they are calling a hate crime.

A picture of what appears to be a noose made out of toilet paper was left hanging on the dorm room door of two black students. The university released a statement saying the students at fault say they were hanging decorations as a Halloween prank, but many students are not buying the excuse.

"And this time it's a Halloween prank, like no it's no Halloween prank. What type of Halloween prank is that? We need to see some repercussions and consequences for the students who did that. They need to get to the bottom of it," Baker said.

Not only do they want the students responsible to be held accountable--there are also calls for discipline actions against a university professor who released an online survey filled with racial slurs and obscenities.

Professor Saleem Alhabash said the survey was for research purposes and was not meant to be offensive.

"To use such language whether your intent was positive or not because intention and outcome are two different things and the outcome of your intentions was negative," said Andrei Nichols, an MSU student said.

MSU President Samuel Stanley did release a letter regarding the incident, which you can read here:

Dear Spartans,
Our community has been affected in the past several days by incidents causing concern and anger.
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.
Recently the greater campus community has experienced vandalism at MSU Hillel, our center for Jewish student life; the presence of U.S. Customs and Border Protection on campus last week for a presentation to a class; an instance of racial bias reported from Bryan Hall over the weekend; and a survey in the College of Communication Arts and Sciences that offended students.
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.
These situations 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.
I want to personally let you know the concerns of our campus community are being taken seriously. Investigations by both the MSU Police Department and our Office of Institutional Equity are taking place, and we are providing support to those who are affected. We will be responsive to these issues and will not ignore the effect they are having on our community. It is important to hold ourselves accountable for being respectful, culturally sensitive and informed.
Any member of the MSU community found responsible for a bias incident will face disciplinary action in accordance with university policies.
Tonight, the Black Student Alliance is hosting a community forum in collaboration with the Associated Students of MSU to discuss some of these issues and their impact. Having a forum for discussion and listening is important if we want to create change.
In the coming months, I will continue to work with students and others in the campus community as we undergo a strategic planning process, including an emphasis on diversity, equity and inclusion. Your feedback will be critical to this plan moving forward.
I want all Spartans to reach their full potential, educationally and professionally. That starts with an inclusive, safe environment here at MSU. We all have purpose in being here, and we need to engage one another with dignity and respect.
Sincerely,
Samuel L. Stanley Jr., M.D.
President

A peaceful protest has been scheduled for October 27 at 11 a.m. at the Hannah Administration Building.

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