Vanderbilt Responds to MSU Shooting Using ChatGPT

2 associate deans will 'step back from their responsibilities' as a result
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 21, 2023 7:24 AM CST
Vanderbilt Responds to MSU Shooting Using ChatGPT
Text from the ChatGPT page of the OpenAI website is shown in this photo, in New York, Feb. 2, 2023.   (AP Photo/Richard Drew, File)

Staff at Vanderbilt University's office of equity, diversity, and inclusion took an unconventional approach to their letter to students following the deadly shooting at Michigan State: They used ChatGPT to write it. Thursday's letter, which described "recent Michigan shootings" as "a tragic reminder of the importance of taking care of each other, particularly in the context of creating inclusive environments" and urged the community to reflect and "take steps to ensure that we are doing our best to create a safe and inclusive environment for all," was signed by two associate deans of the office and a graduate student, but included a line at the bottom, in small font, indicating it was actually crafted by the AI-powered chatbot.

A day after the letter was sent, Associate Dean Nicole Joseph told the Vanderbilt Hustler that it was "poor judgment" to use ChatGPT "to generate communications on behalf of our community in a time of sorrow and in response to a tragedy." It was later announced Joseph and Assistant Dean Hasina Mohyuddin "will step back from their responsibilities with the EDI office." A Vanderbilt student whose sister attends MSU told the student newspaper there was "a sick and twisted irony to making a computer write your message about community and togetherness because you can’t be bothered to reflect on it yourself." Said another student: "In times of tragedies such as this, we need more, not less humanity." A third noted use of ChatGPT in university classes would be considered cheating.

In the statement announcing Joseph and Mohyuddin would step back, Peabody College's dean of education and human development, Camilla P. Benbow, said she was "deeply troubled that a communication from my administration so missed the crucial need for personal connection and empathy during a time of tragedy," per BuzzFeed. She also noted her office will "conduct a complete review of the sequence of events that led to sending the original email" as "the development and distribution of the initial email did not follow Peabody's normal processes providing for multiple layers of review before being sent." The university as a whole denied using artificial intelligence to generate messages. (More ChatGPT stories.)

Get the news faster.
Tap to install our app.
Install the Newser News app
in two easy steps:
1. Tap in your navigation bar.
2. Tap to Add to Home Screen.