MSU president responds to controversial Instagram post - WNEM TV 5


MSU president responds to controversial Instagram post

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An Instagram post, that many have interpreted as racist, has gone viral and appears to mock a Mid-Michigan football player.

Now the mother of the young woman who made that post has commented on the issue.

The photo shows a white young woman hugging someone in a gorilla suit. The photo was posted to the girl's Instagram page with the caption "got a pic with dows kicker ;)."

Ashton Brooks is the star senior kicker for the Midland Dow Chargers.

The post was made after Friday night's rivalry football game between Midland High School and Midland Dow.

The post was tweeted by Shaun King, justice writer for the New York Daily News, after he captured a screenshot of the post. The original post has since been deleted.

Ashton Brooks is receiving a lot of support on her Facebook page since the incident has gone viral.

"[Midland Public Schools] is sickened by the social media post and feel awful for Ashton and her family. H.H. Dow High School and the Midland Public Schools' school community is honored to have a student of Ashton's character as a member of our student body," Midland Public Schools said in a statement.

The district went on to say the girl who posted the photo last attended MPS for her junior year during the 2014-2015 school year.. She transferred and graduated from another school district in 2016. 

"We are equally offended and upset that our schools and community have been connected to her comments in this matter. The comments made do not reflect the beliefs of our district or schools in any way," the statement continued.

The school district investigated the issue and believe the student in the gorilla costume was unaware of the post.

"We believe that based on what we have learned, he was unaware of the post being made and specifically did not know about the girl's comments until we addressed it with him," the statement said.

The statement ended by saying MPS will condemn this type of racism and misuse of social media.

The mother of the young woman who made the post talked to TV5's David Custer.

"This poor little girl, I hope she's OK. My understanding is that no one is upset with each other, it's the other people who have posted these things creating an invitation to harm my daughter. Is that right? My daughter was stupid and she did the wrong thing. She's sorry for it and she will change. She isn't racist. She doesn't hate," said Jules Muck, the Instagram user's mother.

Muck's daughter attends Michigan State University. The university responded to the situation with the following statement: 

One of the university’s core values is inclusion, and we are committed to fostering a campus climate that does not condone racial harassment or bullying. The university is aware of the recent posting connected to an MSU student. This posting is deeply troubling and is clearly not aligned with our core values. We are addressing this situation in a responsible manner through multiple channels.

--MSU spokesman Jason Cody

Darold Newton, president of the Bay City NAACP, said it's posts like this that set the country back hundreds of years.

"Somethings aren't funny. Especially when it deals with racial issues like bigotry and racism," Newton said. "To see the young Millennial doing things like that just goes to show it's still a behavior that needs to be addressed."

Several people took to MSU's Facebook page suggesting they expel the woman who posted the photo. Her name is Reyna Muck.

Students at both MSU and SVSU sign a code of conduct. SVSU's spokesperson said their code of conduct applies to incidents off-campus and Reyna Muck's post would qualify for review.

The post has been shared all across the internet but for Malcolm Brooks, that's his little sister the post is targeted at. He said it's not something that should be taken lightly.

"It hurts. It hurts and it hurts to be in a world where that's still a thing," Malcolm Brooks said.

He is outraged over the post.

"I didn't think it was here. I didn't think it was going to affect us here. I didn't think it was that big of a problem anymore, but obviously it is. There's still people out there that are like that," Malcolm Brooks said.

He said his sister took the post hard the first day, but is doing better.

"We're just thankful for Dow High and everyone helping us through it and everyone there to support her," he said.

The woman who posted the photo has yet to return TV5's request for comment.

Many people have called her racist for the post, but Malcolm Brooks said his family is not letting their anger get to them.

He said he hopes this is a lesson for his little sister, the world and to Reyna Muck herself.

"I would try and make her understand why that hurts, why we feel the way we do about it and why it affects everybody so greatly. I'd try, whether or not she'd believe me is her choice," Malcolm Brooks said.

On Thursday, the Michigan State University President responded to the controversial Instagram post. In the letter addressed to the Spartan community it said in part:

 "On different occasions I have expressed concern about the impact of words or conduct that debase our community and call our core values into question. A deeply offensive recent social media post that has gained national attention is a reminder of the significant and broad impact these kind of actions can have.

Today the damage inflicted by degrading images and words posted on social media becomes irreparable very quickly. We can condemn, and regret, but hurt and anger can’t be erased by simply deleting a post."

To read the full letter, click here

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