Michigan State University

Michigan State suspends employee over Hitler's image appearing on videoboards

The image was shown before Saturday's football game against Michigan

Aaron J. Thornton/Getty Images

Michigan State athletic director Alan Haller said he has suspended an employee involved in allowing Adolf Hitler's image to be shown on videoboards before playing No. 2 Michigan.

The employee, who was not named, will be paid pending an investigation that will help to determine potential action in the future. Haller said no one in the department viewed the entire video, exposing a failure in its process.

“Antisemitism must be denounced,” Haller said in a statement Sunday night. “The image displayed prior to Saturday night’s game is not representative of who we are and the culture we embody. Nevertheless, we must own our failures and accept responsibility.

The creator and producer of The Quiz Channel on YouTube, which includes Hitler’s image as part of a quiz, said the school didn't ask for permission to use his content or pay him for it and defended his decision to include the question on his platform.

“It’s an absolutely normal trivia question, shown in an inappropriate setting,” Floris van Pallandt wrote on his YouTube page. “Ignoring the dark facets of history is by no means the answer, on the contrary.”

The channel is publicly available and free for users.

While the Wolverines were finishing off a 49-0 win over the Spartans on Saturday night, Michigan State spokesman Matt Larson apologized that the inappropriate content was displayed more than an hour before kickoff.

“MSU will not be using the third-party source going forward and will implement stronger screening and approval procedures for all videoboard content in the future,” Larson said.

Michigan State streamed The Quiz Channel, which had 40 questions in its latest video, including asking where was Hitler born with his image before showing Austria as the answer. The previous question asked, “In Star Trek, what color was Spock's blood?” before green was shown as the answer.

“I am deeply sorry for the image displayed at Spartan Stadium, which made many of our community feel alienated and unsafe,” interim university President Teresa Woodruff said Sunday. “It was unacceptable. I asked last evening for a full review of this university event and will take all necessary steps to align our messages and actions to our values.

“I will work with our Jewish community and every member of minoritized populations to ensure Spartans feel that this is a place where everyone can live, work, go to class and attend events that are welcoming.”

Later Sunday, Haller apologized and said his department is responsible for all content on its videoboards.

“Ultimately, it is my responsibility to make sure all those who interact with Spartan Athletics feel safe, valued and respected,” Haller said. “The image was harmful to our communities, especially our Jewish community which is currently experiencing a rise in antisemitism, including acts of violence.”

Haller said he will reach out to Jewish-community groups in the East Lansing-area and on campus to tell them personally how the department failed and provide a chance to give feedback.

“I understand our response might be met with skepticism," Haller said. "That skepticism is warranted, and we will do all that is necessary to earn back your trust.”

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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