Students and Professors bombed with insults and inappropriate content

Multiple zoom raids are disturbing student’s classes with racial slurs and inappropriate content

Amber Brouwer

Imagine the following: You are quietly listening to your Zoom meeting and all of a sudden you hear monkey sounds. You have no idea where it’s coming from and whether other students can hear it as well, so you ignore it. A few seconds later someone starts yelling offensive slurs. Now everyone responds to it.

The disturbing situation I’m describing above demonstrates Zoom Raiding, or Zoom Bombing. It became well-known during the  beginning of 2020 as many institutions and companies went online due to the global COVID-19 pandemic.

Zoom raiding is when individuals who don’t belong in the Zoom meeting who receive the login information to disturb the class, many times offensively. It doesn’t only have to be with words. In some cases, if the intruder gets the chance, they will share inappropriate content via screenshare. These kinds of incidents are happening not only in online classes, but also government meetings, conferences, AA meetings and many more.

Over the past two weeks there have been two incidents of this at Pace. One in Professor Connerney’s PHI 152 class, which was invaded with racial slurs and repeated insults directed at the Connerney. She decided to create a new Zoom link within minutes.

“I had heard about it, but I honestly didn’t think people would actually do this,” she stated. “It’s just a pathetic cry for contact.” She reported it to IT and the Dean. “It’s kind of hard to find these people, especially if they didn’t use a Pace e-mail,” said a representative from the IT department.

A class taught by Professor Patricia Lacobazzo was also raided with Zoom-bombers sending racial slurs in the chat over repeatedly. Lacobazzo said she thought it was better to ignore the situation, because eventually the perpetrator would go away.

A spokesperson at Pace came out with the following statement, “Racist and anti-Semitic messages are hurtful, and no one should have to experience them. Zoombombing is abhorrent, and we don’t want any student to experience it.

“This is very serious, which is why our Chief Diversity Officer, Executive Director of Institutional Equity, and Dean for Students, have all been notified about the incident and are investigating what happened and are reaching out to the students and faculty member in the class.“Pace University has a zero tolerance policy against harassment and discrimination. Whenever a complaint is received, the University investigates and takes appropriate action.

“While such incidents remain rare on campus — the University in the past year has held over 250,000 Zoom meetings involving 2 million participants in 168 countries – we are constantly assessing our security and cyber protocols.

“Our Chief Information Officer, in coordination with our Office of Safety and Security, is conducting a forensic review to understand how a security breach may have happened and to safeguard against this happening again.”

“It doesn’t matter how I thought or felt about it.” Carla Stivala, a student who has experienced a Zoom raid as well, says. “The only thing that matters is that the university prevents it from happening again.”

The University has the responsibility to ensure physical safety, but it is also important that Pace ensures safety for all students, staff and faculty online as well. On July 1,  Zoom came out with 100 new safety features for people to use to keep their zooms private.