Remarks by President McKay and Vice President Pathickal on Further Penn State Zoom-Bombings

February 18th, 2021

Remarks by President McKay and Vice President Pathickal on Further Penn State Zoom-Bombings. February 17th, 2021 Articles: Link to story: https://news.psu.edu/story/647764/202…​ Zoom: Prevent and Manage Meeting Disruptions (aka Zoom-Bombing): https://pennstate.service-now.com/sp?…​ Penn State community reminded of tips and tools to help prevent Zoom-bombing: https://news.psu.edu/story/647659/202…

Transcript:

THE PRESIDENT: Good evening. This is now the second time which we as a student government are addressing you, the students, about a widespread Zoom bombing incident at University Park and across other Penn State campuses as well. On Monday the 15th, the Penn State University Park campus fell victim when a won an event sponsored by the Gender Equity Center called “Pioneers of Prevention: Black Women Activists Against Sexual Violence” was disrupted by an individual shouting disgusting, racially-motivated, sexual threats at event attendees along with repugnant imagery depicting racial violence. Another, which occurred last night during a Donald P. Bellisario College event entitled “Digital Media and Marketing” subjected audience members to racist and homophobic slurs upon entering the Zoom meeting. The university police and public safety’s criminal investigations unit are currently investigating the Gender Equity Center’s event as well as yet another Zoom bombing incident which occurred at Penn State’s Brandywine campus. Evidence from these two events indicates that the terror invoked was racially-motivated. These two events, of course, occurred even after the attack on the Black Caucus, where 51 perpetrators targeted Black students. The Police Victim Services Unit is responding by providing support to those impacted by these events and plans to update victims on the investigation of these events.

As this student government has done before, we denounce these incidents entirely, yet acknowledge that our university can — and must — do more to protect our students.

THE VICE PRESIDENT: We’ve discovered that an alarming number of students were not aware of these attacks, and others were only made aware by student newspapers. We find this to be unacceptable. Students should be immediately made aware of such attacks via universal warnings and alerts similar to how information about on-campus threats are distributed. We must be transparent about these attacks and call them out for what they are: threats to our peers’ mental, physical, and emotional well-being. They must be responded to by universities and administration, and each with steps they’re taking to combat future incidents, too. The increased awareness of these disgusting events which will necessarily follow will hopefully increase efforts among the student body, faculty, and staff in working to prevent these events from continuing. 

It also can’t be on the student body alone to prevent these incidents. Students of color especially cannot be solely responsible for protecting their peers. The university must do everything in their power to ensure these spaces are not vulnerable to begin with, especially considering we have seen these attacks time and time again. Additional universal requirements must be implemented such as requiring registration for all Zoom events hosted through Penn State, setting waiting rooms on as a default, and only allowing authorized users those with PSU IDs to enter meetings while ensuring that public meetings are streamed another way. These steps are just some of those which the university can take for the protection of their students. These acts are perpetrated by individuals who are thrilled by inducing terror, and their message is not welcomed at our university.

THE PRESIDENT: We’ve linked several Penn State articles to the description of this video on YouTube which guide student hosts of meetings through the steps of securing their meetings from such attacks. As your student government, we will continue to provide resources such as a step-by-step resource and instructions on securing your zoom meetings as best as possible via our social media. We’re sorry to the students who had to endure such tragedy and we will do our best to ensure that you don’t have to endure that again.

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