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Michigan State University Community Call for Removal of VP of Research Stephen Hsu

Students, faculty and staff at Michigan State University are calling for the removal of Senior Vice President for Research and Innovation Stephen Hsu for promoting racism, sexism and eugenics in research as well as conflicts of interest.

Hsu joined MSU in 2012 and assumed his current position in August, hailing from a background in teaching at the University of Oregon, according to Lansing State Journal. His research has been further recognized at Harvard University, where he is a junior fellow of the Harvard Society of Fellows and Yale University, where he served as faculty.

In a petition titled “Fire Stephen Hsu,” the MSU Graduate Employees Union and affiliated coalitions called the university to follow through on its commitment for diversity and inclusion in research by firing Hsu. The petition stated Hsu fundamentally disagrees with this mission as well as hundreds of evolutionary biologists. The petition now has over 500 signatures from faculty, academic staff and other individuals.

“The concerns expressed by the Graduate Employees Union and other individuals familiar with Hsu indicates an individual that cannot uphold our University Mission or our commitment to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion,” the petition stated. “Given this discordance with university values, Stephen Hsu should not be privileged with the power and responsibility of recruiting and funding scholars, overseeing ethical conduct, or coordinating graduate study.”

Hsu and his scientific racism have aligned with prominent white supremacists in the past. In 2017, he appeared in a podcast with Stefan Molyneux, a Canadian far-right and nationalist activist, where they discussed Hsu’s research on gene sequencing technology to select desirable and “undesirable” traits.

In the podcast clip, Hsu can be seen agreeing that there may be “invisible miasma pushing Asian Americans up” and “pushing African Americans down” while simultaneously calling the hypothesis “ascientific.”

In blog posts leading back to 2008, Hsu has studied intelligence and brain morphology based on race, and supported a 2019 study that there is no “widespread bias in police shootings,” The State News reported. Another blog post appears to support James Damore, a former Google employee who was fired for stating that men are more suitable to work in tech than women, according to The Guardian.

On top of this, The State News reports that Hsu’s 2019 research on genomic predictions of disease risks had to be corrected to include a statement of conflict of interest — and this is not the first occurrence of such issue.

Addressing the petition for his removal, Hsu responded in another blog post that the accusations were taken out of context.

“The accusations are entirely false — I am neither racist or sexist,” he wrote. “The Twitter mobs want to suppress scientific work that they find objectionable. What is really at stake: academic freedom, open discussion of important ideas, scientific inquiry. All are imperiled and all must be defended.”

The GEU stated that eugenics is not an academic freedom issue in a Twitter thread.

“[The union] recognizes that academic freedom entitles a scholar to express ideas without professional disadvantage,” the thread stated. “However, the VP of Research and Graduate Studies has tremendous power in determining research budgets and therefore tremendous responsibility in doing so in agreement with University values of diversity, equity, and inclusion.”

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