The Southern Methodist University came out with a survey last fall that asked its students to rate how much they wanted to ask questions as open and as potentially controversial as “Why are black people so loud?” and “Do black people hate America?”
Other questions in the survey that later came out online include “Which is better to use- African-American or black?”, “Why do black people wear hair scarves or wraps to bed?”, and, “Do black people get sunburned?”
There are also questions directed toward Asian people including, “Is your vision impaired by your eyelids?”
The survey was launched as early as November of last year, and there have been no complaints from students and faculty members to whom the survey was exclusively meant for. However, SMU’s Cultural Intelligence Initiative which posted and distributed the survey had to take it down on Thursday after a link to it was posted in a tweet and non-SMU students started answering, too.
The survey was only meant to be an internal conversation about questions students wanted to ask about races, cultures, religions and ideologies even those that they may have been initially uncomfortable to ask because they were made to believe those questions are unacceptable.
The survey has a disclaimer at the start that warns about the language used being “explicit and some people may find it uncomfortable, but it is important that we ask the questions this way so that you are clear what we mean.”
The survey was providing the university with relevant data about the areas where SMU students needed better cultural education. It was not meant to perpetuate stereotypes.
Before the survey was shared unofficially to those outside the campus about 30 SMU students have given their opinions and insights on the survey. That number quickly shot to more than 100 after being shared to outsiders.
Maria Dixon Hall who heads the project said they had to remove the survey online to ensure that the survey data wouldn’t be skewed by answers from people who aren’t SMU students.
Dixon Hall stressed: “We’re not taking it down because we’re wrong, we’re taking it down because it wasn’t for everybody.”
Dixon Hall also insists that the survey might be uncomfortable but the questions there are “genuine.”
She said: “As an African-American, I’ve heard people ask those questions. I think that’s where we are with race in this country. We can’t have an authentic conversation. We are coached to have a polite conversation, which means we can’t ask questions.”