MSU research survey sparks outrage over racist elements

EAST LANSING(WJRT)- (10/22/19)- "I have seen a few pretty black girls. But they are rare. If their hair was like white people hair they would be prettier."

"I never thought the day would come that I knew more about a computer than an Asian. That day was today."

"Muslims have been getting kicked out of countries since apparently around 250AD. Obviously can't be trusted."

How do you feel after reading those comments?

They were part of a Michigan State University approved survey some students took part in.

And it sparked outrage on social media.

"I do realize that the impact of this well intended study were not received well. There were students that who were hurt because some of the messages were deeply offensive," said MSU associate professor, Saleem Alhabash

Alhabash is an associate professor of public relations in the College of Communications Arts & Sciences at MSU.

He's also the one behind the survey.

"The research was mainly inspired by this up surge of really trying to understand what happens when people are confronted with racially offensive post. What kind of actions do they do?" Alhabash said.

58 students took the survey, which came with disclaimer, to let them know that they were about to read comments that they may find disturbing and racially offensive.

"These are real, they exist in the real world, we have not created any of them and it's sad to say it was not hard to find," he said.

They were asked to rate the statements, scoring how stereotypical, prejudiced, positive, or funny they found them. But Alhabash said no one was laughing after reading the survey.

"I apologize for the hurt the students felt, in no way intended that to happen" Alhabash said.

The survey was shutdown following the backlash.

Alhabash said, "I would like to still do research on this topic. But at this stage, I really focused on our community and how do we get through this and be part of the healing process."