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OIIR Statement Regarding Zoombombing

4/3/20

We write to report a series of disturbing incidents of racism, antisemitism, and hate that have occurred in virtual Zoom sessions across campus. In many of these situations, a number of individuals allegedly unaffiliated with the university have engaged in racist, antisemitic, homophobic, sexist, and other derogatory slurs, showed images of swastikas, and made threats of violence. Especially concerning, these attacks have targeted events focused on promoting tolerance and understanding and have directed personal attacks at individuals. This behavior matches patterns nationwide of so-called “Zoombombing,” and the campus is working with authorities to identify the individuals responsible.

We want to share our response in addressing this behavior and provide resources you might find helpful. First, these incidents have been reported to the University of Illinois Police Department, the Office of Student Conflict Resolution, the Bias Assessment and Response Team, campus IT Security, the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs, and the Office of the Chancellor. In addition, OIIR and the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs is working with IT Security to enhance security practices to stop attacks in our meetings, courses, and events. In addition, we have hosted virtual space for individuals directly impacted to process this experience.

Whether witnessed in person or later via social media, this behavior is disturbing, jarring, and upsetting. The Office of Inclusion and Intercultural Relations has reached out to individuals directly impacted by these attacks and provided them with resources for additional support. If you have been impacted directly or indirectly by the Zoom attacks, the following list includes available support and reporting resources for students.

These attacks necessitate continued action and conversation. We extend our appreciation to the students, staff, and faculty who have spoken up and out against the bigotry and hatred experienced in these incidents, and we continue to seek justice for all forms of bias, hate, and discrimination. As a campus community, we stand together stronger through our collective voice and actions to speak out against injustice; collectively, we are more powerful than those who might seek to harass, threaten, or dismiss us.

Sincerely,

Shawna Patterson-Stephens, Ph.D.
Associate Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs
Director, Office of Inclusion and Intercultural Relations