USC investigating after African America student group Zoom meeting interrupted by racist images, language

South Carolina News

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WSAV) – Officials are investigating after Zoom meeting being held by the Association of African American Students (AAAS) at the University of South Carolina was interrupted by racist messages and images Friday.

The organization usually holds an end-of-year cookout for students, but decided to hold it via Zoom call due to the coronavirus outbreak. AAAS says during the cookout, unknown persons entered the virtual group meeting and posted multiple images, videos and messages containing racist slurs and derogatory terms.

Video of the incident posted to social media shows people interrupting the Zoom call depicting blackface and a Nazi flag. The people can be heard yelling derogatory statements.

“We are completely repulsed by the actions of these individuals and offer our support to those who were subject to or in any way impacted by it,” AAAS said in a statement on Twitter.

University of South Carolina President Bob Caslen responded to the incident on Twitter Friday night, calling the incident “unacceptable.”

On Saturday, Caslen issued a full statement and confirmed there is an investigation into the Zoom call.

“This is absolutely unacceptable, and we are saddened that our students had to witness these despicable acts,” Caslen said. “Our students, who gathered in fellowship during a time of hardship and uncertainty, expected that they’d be in a safe, welcoming environment. Unfortunately, that environment was breached by cowardly individuals looking to cause harm during this already difficult time.”

Caslen said the university’s Division of Information Technology has contacted Zoom and requested that the incident be investigated. The Office of Equal Opportunity Programs is also preparing to investigate in the event that University students were the people who hacked the call.    

“At the University of South Carolina, we celebrate diversity and encourage respect for all members of the community through our Carolinian Creed,” Caslen said. “This incident runs contrary to the values we hold as Gamecocks, but also to the values we hold as a nation. We all stand in solidarity with AAAS. We stand together as Gamecocks in the face of this reprehensible event. We pledge once again our continuing commitment to respect the dignity of all human beings and the ideals of the Carolinian Creed.”

Across the nation, there have been many reports of Zoom calls being hacked or “Zoom bombed” as Zoom calls have become more popular during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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