Racist ‘Zoom bombing’ incident prompts GV Zoom updates

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Olivia Fellows, News Editor

Following a racial incident during a group meeting of Grand Valley State University’s new Black Male Scholars group, the GVSU Information Technology Division is issuing updates and changes to the virtual Zoom app many professors utilize for remote learning.

The incident, which occurred on Sept. 25, included racist language and images being shared via computer abruptly during the meeting, prompted the Information Technology (IT) department and the university to begin investigating immediately. The IT department has been able to turn over suspect leads to GVPD, and the investigators are pursuing it as a criminal case. The university stated that the virtual attack came from a non-university-affiliated account.

GVSU President Philomena Mantella issued a statement to students in regards to the incident, labeling it a reprehensible act and one that GVSU administration will not tolerate.

“It has been determined the reprehensible racial incident reported during a Zoom meeting of our Black Male Scholars group last night did not come from people within our university community. That fact in no way diminishes our resolve to fight racism at every turn,” Mantella said in the statement. “The values of Grand Valley State University call us to be a model of an inclusive and affirming community. We will not tolerate any behavior of this nature. We are committed to each member of our community and their well-being.”

The statement also said that during the evening, it was reported that three other GVSU student groups also experienced apparent “Zoom bombings.” These events are also being investigated.

Vice President for GVSU’s IT division, Milos Topic, has already begun working on additional protocols and training to improve security.

Some of the changes already being made to all GVSU Zoom accounts are that all meetings will now require a waiting room for non-GVSU participants, and all scheduled and instant meetings will require a passcode.

The IT department’s suggestions to students for improving their own privacy include avoiding sharing Zoom meeting links on social media or other public forums, not using your Personal Meeting ID (PMI) to host public events, and assigning a co-host to help moderate the meeting.

In response to the incident, GVSU’s Student Senate also put out a statement condemning the racist act and denouncing racism on campus and with remote learning. In the letter, Student Senate representatives aimed to remind students that they are supported in reporting acts of racial discrimination.

“Student Senate stands with students of color,” the statement read. “Acts of racial violence on our campus are deplorable, unacceptable and will not be tolerated. We must remain diligent in our support of minority voices at Grand Valley. We, as Lakers, must come together and support our fellow students.”

GVPD and the IT department reported that the incident is still under investigation, but that any new information will be reported as soon as it is available. Students in need additional support should contact [email protected]