March 1, 2021
Subject: BSU Response Regarding Survey Controversy – A Message from President Clark and Provost Ismaili
Dear BSU community,
Following a number of student complaints received since yesterday evening, Bridgewater State University is reviewing the use of a survey developed as part of a class research project that was seeking to gain a deeper understanding of issues of racial discrimination and bias. As an institution that firmly stands with the Black Lives Matter movement, we are deeply sorry for the harm and pain this has caused our students and other members of our community.
The survey was developed as part of an ongoing research project. The hypothetical vignette from the survey was meant to elicit predictable responses to better understand how differences in the framing of an issue shape opinions, beliefs and reactions. Both the researchers and the university strongly condemn the viewpoint articulated through the hypothetical vignette. This survey was accessed by students in introduction to psychology and was prefaced with considerable information about its purpose. The survey, which was part of a larger investigation into pro and con reactions to issues such as COVID-19 and Black Lives Matter, was approved by the university’s Institutional Review Board.
The Presidential Task Force on Racial Justice, which began its work this past September in the wake of the murder of George Floyd, will soon be presenting a series of recommended actions that the university should take to ensure that its values of diversity, inclusion and equity are included prominently in all aspects of the work of the institution.
We thank our students and other concerned members of the BSU community for their vigilance. This matter raises numerous questions that the university continues to explore on a daily basis, including how we advance the academic and research enterprise in a manner that is sensitive to the profound pain caused by racial injustice.
Frederick W. Clark Jr., Esq.
President, Bridgewater State University
Karim Ismaili, Ph.D.
Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs