Yesterday a Zoom meeting for the Heman Sweatt Center for Black Males, was interrupted by a racist Zoom disruption incident. One of the students participating in the online session, captured the incident and tweeted it out, initiating this response from UT Austin President Gregory L. Fenves:
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
Dr. Ryan Sutton, director of the Sweatt Center, immediately issued an apology on Twitter to all of the students who were participating in the session:
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 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.
— Heman Sweatt Center for Black Males (@SweattCenter) March 31, 2020
The University is now working to extend Zoom security protocols to all UT staff members (those had been secured for faculty before the first day of classes). The DDCE has also tightened procedures for inviting students and others to Zoom meetings.
Sutton says that although students are upset about the incident, it should not distract the students and Sweatt Center staff from their mission. “Instead,” he says, “let’s continue to build community through this social isolation, and make the impact that we have set out to have.”