University survey asking if students want to know whether 'black people hate America' draws ire

A student walks on the Southern Methodist University (SMU) campus January 23, 2007, in Dallas, Texas. (Photo by Brian Harkin/Getty Images)

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A student walks on the Southern Methodist University (SMU) campus January 23, 2007, in Dallas, Texas. (Photo by Brian Harkin/Getty Images)

A Texas university is experiencing backlash over a cultural survey asking students to rate their interest in learning answers to controversial questions like, "Do black people hate America?"

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According to the Dallas Morning News, Southern Methodist University's Cultural Intelligence Initiative first posted the survey, titled "Ask Anything, Seriously," last fall.

"Let's face it, we all have questions about the people we encounter in our day-to-day lives," reads an introduction to the survey. "We come from different races, cultures, countries, cities, religions and ideologies. We want to avoid mistakes or even worse, offending someone, but we really want to know."

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The introduction goes on to say the survey aims to reveal "important cultural information" and see which questions people of different races "have been dying to ask friends, colleagues and total strangers."

>> Read the full intro here

Those questions – which include "Why are black people so loud?," "Do black people hate America?" and "Why do black people always complain about segregation but always want their own TV stations?" – drew ire last week after a Twitter user shared screenshots of the survey.

"What's the purpose of asking these questions?" Twitter user Emily Farris, described in her profile as a political scientist, asked in a tweet Thursday.

Her post included a screenshot from a portion of the survey titled: "Things I have always wanted to know about Asians." One question asked respondents to rate how much they wanted to know, "Is your vision impaired by your eyelids?"

Critics quickly weighed in:

Others came to the university's defense:

The university also responded to critics' tweets:

Maria Dixon Hall, senior adviser to the provost for Cultural Intelligence Initiatives, said the survey was removed Thursday after it received a sharp increase in responses, possibly from non-SMU students.

"We're not taking it down because we're wrong; we're taking it down because it wasn't for everybody," she told the Dallas Morning News.

She told the newspaper that students anonymously submitted some of the questions, while others came from a board composed of faculty and students. The responses were meant to fuel discussion about race and diversity, she said.

"We can't say that we're shaping world-changers if we can't talk to the world," Dixon Hall told the newspaper.

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