Vanderbilt staff used ChatGPT to write email to students about Michigan State University shooting

Vanderbilt University staff have apologized for using ChatGPT to write a condolence email in the wake of the Michigan State University shooting that saw three students murdered.

Officials at the Office of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion at Peabody College admitted “poor judgement” in using the OpenAI chatbot for the email.

“The recent Michigan shootings are a tragic reminder of the importance of taking care of each other, particularly in the context of creating inclusive environments,” read the initial email from the university’s school of education.

And it added: “As members of the Peabody campus community, we must reflect on the impact of such an event and take steps to ensure that we are doing our best to create a safe and inclusive environment for all.”

At the bottom of the email was a note stating, “Paraphrase from OpenAI’s ChatGPT.” ChatGPT is an AI language model that writes human-sounding but computer-generated text.

The email brought an angry response from students at the Nashville-based university.

“There is 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,” Laith Kayat, a senior student whose sister attends Michigan State University, told The Vanderbilt Hustler.

An associate dean at Peabody later apologized in a follow-up email, according to the college newspaper.

“While we believe in the message of inclusivity expressed in the email, using ChatGPT to generate communications on behalf of our community in a time of sorrow and in response to a tragedy contradicts the values that characterize Peabody College,” stated Nicole Joseph.

“As with all new technologies that affect higher education, this moment gives us all an opportunity to reflect on what we know and what we still must learn about AI.”

The 43-year-old man accused of killing three and wounding five in a shooting at Michigan State University before turning the gun on himself was found with a note detailing threats to two other schools, authorities say.

Police identified the gunman in Monday’s shooting as Anthony McRae. He is not believed to have any connection to MSU.

The Independent has reached out to Vanderbilt University and Peabody College for comment.