Virtual meeting with black University of Texas students cut short by racist ‘Zoom bombing’
A virtual meeting that included a group of black students at the University of Texas at Austin was cut short Monday after it was interrupted by visitors who logged on and began using racial slurs.
The incident occurred during an online meeting hosted by the Heman Sweatt Center for Black Males, a university initiative that aims to support African American male students, where Director Ryan Sutton was talking about staying focused on school amid the coronavirus pandemic, the Austin American-Statesman reported.
Approximately halfway through the meeting, which was shared on Zoom, students reported that unknown users appeared in the video chat yelling racial slurs, according to the newspaper.
University President Greg Fenves said in a tweet Monday that the school is investigating the incident and called it “reprehensible.”
We are investigating the racist Zoom bombing of a meeting of UT students, staff & faculty. It was reprehensible. If the perpetrators are members of the UT community, they will be disciplined. We will also increase online security for all UT staff to prevent similar incidents.
— Greg Fenves (@gregfenves) March 31, 2020
The Sweatt Center condemned the actions in a tweet the same day.
“We denounce the actions of the hackers in our call and are working to better our newly found space on Zoom,” the center said.
The Heman Sweat Center for Black Males sends our deepest apologies to those who participated in our first Zoom meeting earlier this afternoon. We are still a space for black men to organize and uplift one another. We denounce the actions of the hackers in our call and are…(1/2)
— Heman Sweatt Center for Black Males (@SweattCenter) March 30, 2020
working to better our newly found space on Zoom. If you have any questions or concerns feel free to DM us. We will be sending links for virtual meetings through emails and GroupMe from now on. Thank you for your cooperation. (2/2)
— Heman Sweatt Center for Black Males (@SweattCenter) March 31, 2020
Students at the university are completing their coursework online due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Statesman reported.
The FBI released a warning about “Zoom bombing” and other virtual threats Monday, saying it has received “multiple reports of conferences being disrupted by pornographic and/or hate images and threatening language.”
Officials have urged Zoom and other video platform users not to make meetings and classrooms public.
New York Attorney General Letitia James sent a letter to Zoom on Monday asking what new measures the video platform is taking to ensure user privacy as traffic increases due to the coronavirus pandemic.