Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey has launched an investigation to determine the culprits behind a spate of racist Zoom bombings which occurred during several online student events celebrating Black History Month.
Chancellor Christopher Molloy released a statement on Friday announcing the most recent attacks, which took place during online programs prepared by the Paul Robeson Culture Center and the Center for Social Justice Education & LGBTQ Communities.
Molloy denounced the instructions, speculating that they were part of “larger coordinated international activity,” but has declined to share additional details.
“While we will not give these bigoted individuals the platform they cowardly sought by going into details, I do want us all to acknowledge the harm done to Black and LGBTQ members of our community, and affirm their pain,” Molloy said.
“Marginalized communities are too often forced to bear such hatred and navigate in spite of it, and moments like this cut and wound deeply. I strongly condemn these horrific acts,” he added.
Molloy said in the statement that the Rutgers University Police Department is working with the Office of Information Technology and the Division of Student Affairs to pinpoint the individuals behind the incident.
To prevent this from happening again in the future, Molloy has been joined by Rutgers President Jonathan Holloway in finding effective, long-lasting solutions. However, temporary countermeasures have also been shared with the community.
“Due to these recent malicious activities, it’s imperative that we take the steps needed to minimize risk and prevent further harm. OIT has an extensive list of resources with guidance on web conferencing security, including key tips to avoid Zoom-bombing.”
Not the First Time
Since the COVID-19 pandemic has made teleconferencing platforms such as Zoom vital in online education and other academic events, the FBI warned users in March 2020 to stay guarded.
Other universities have been victimized by similar bigoted acts. Penn State announced that a Zoom bombing occurred “during a Black Caucus portion of Penn State’s Spring Virtual Student Involvement Fair” on January 27 and has also launched a probe to identify the people responsible.
Gonzaga and Washington University have also reported online attacks targeting events held by Black Student Union groups and WSU’s Filipino American Student Association.