Administrators at Michigan State University (MSU) were considering the removal of whiteboards from the allowed items list in dormitories due to cases of bullying and harassment through the boards.


A Facebook post by the Lansing NAACP said that a student found a racial slur written on her whiteboard, and that this last incident at the East Lansing university that led MSU to take action on this type of harassment. This research study investigates how issues over banning the whiteboard arose from a discussion in a regular community meeting into a mass media event.

The principle methodological approach was to survey MSU students about their views on whiteboards and the idea of banning them from the dormitories. This was combined with the conduct of focus groups with students and interviews with key policy-makers.


  • Led the research team
  • Contributed to the design of the survey, interview and focus group questions
  • Conducted interview and led focus groups study
  • A meta-analysis of 14 online news articles related to whiteboard issue since early February was conducted to see the viewpoints about the ‘decision’ to change MSU’s policy on whiteboards
  • Analyzed survey, interview and focus groups data
  • Documented and presented results