Remarks by the President and Representatives at Signing of R.46-15: Condemnation of the Zoom-Bombing Made Against the Black Caucus and Demands for Legal Charges Against Perpetrators

February 7th, 2021

UPUA President Zachary McKay, Representative Blake Toliver, and Representative Najee Rodriguez offer remarks at the signing of UPUA Resolution #46-15: “Condemnation of the Zoom-Bombing Made Against the Black Caucus and Demands for Legal Charges Against Perpetrators.”

The resolution was introduced by Representatives Toliver and Rodriguez in response to the “Zoom-bombing” attack made against the Penn State Black Caucus in which 51 individuals interrupted the organization’s virtual involvement fair, shouted racial slurs, and shared explicit content. The resolution passed the General Assembly with unanimous support and multiple co-signers.

Transcript:

THE PRESIDENT: Good Afternoon. Today, I am pleased to sign UPUA Resolution #46-15, which passed through the General Assembly this past week, and which calls for substantive action against those who viciously disrupted the Black Caucus’s involvement fair with egregious language and actions. I want to begin by commending Black Caucus Representative Blake Toliver, as well as College of the Liberal Arts Representative and Chair of the Justice and Equity Committee Najee Rodriguez, who are both joining me today for introducing this urgent legislation to the General Assembly on behalf of the student body. I’m grateful for their leadership and for that of their fellow co-signers which they demonstrated on this issue. 

This is what we as a student government, as a student body, as a university, all across our country, must do in response to acts of hate violence and discrimination. We must advocate on behalf of all of our students’ sense of worth and well-being. That means fighting for students, especially when they face attacks the likes of which were seen at the Black Caucus’s involvement fair. The individuals responsible must be held accountable for their actions to the fullest extent of the law. We cannot in good conscience let ourselves sit idly by as we watch the ark of the moral universe turn away from its natural bend toward justice, as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once reminded us it tends to do. Our student government denounces these acts in all their forms and fashions, and I want to make it known that those who wish to spread hate on our campus, as we saw, had better find another place to call home. As I’ve reminded each of you before it is all of our responsibilities to call out racism and bigotry when we see it. We must eradicate these evils from our campus and from our hearts. Now, I’d like to welcome Blake and Najee to offer some remarks on the occasion and the significance of their response to the actions of the past few weeks.

REPRESENTATIVE TOLIVER: We must condemn the inexcusable actions of the 51 individuals responsible for the Zoom bombing of the Penn State Black Caucus on January 27, 2021. This type of behavior has no place at our university, as incidents such as this prevent students of color like myself from feeling safe on campus and within the State College community. Every student at Penn State deserves the right to connect virtually without being subjugated to racial slurs and discriminatory language. I call on the university and law enforcement to take action against these individuals to ensure that those responsible are prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law, and that this never has to happen to any Penn State student or Penn State students in the future. Securing justice for the Black community at Penn State during this trying time should be at the top of the university’s agenda, and to those affected by this incident, I’m very sorry that you had to experience something so traumatic such as this. And to the entire black community at Penn State, I hope we as a community can find some sense of peace moving forward. Penn State students of today and tomorrow deserve better. If We Are Penn State, then we must act now. Thank you.

REPRESENTATIVE RODRIGUEZ: The University Park Undergraduate Association, on behalf of the Undergraduate Student Body, hereby condemns the individuals who shamefully partook in the Zoom bombing and demands that the administration of the Pennsylvania State University take the proper action and collaboration with federal, state, and local law enforcement to officially charge the 51 perpetrators that took part in these egregious acts, with state and federal crimes. Here and now we will continue to work on expanding justice and equity for all students on campus, and ensuring that people are brought to justice for egregious actions such as the one demonstrated in the Zoom bombing that occurred with Black Caucus. We are calling on the Vice President for Student Affairs Damon Sims, and the President of the university Eric Barron to continue to collaborate with the proper officials to ensure that these individuals are brought to justice in the way that they should be. Furthermore, we also encourage victims of teleconference hijacking, or cyber crimes of that matter, to officially contact the FBI and the proper individuals who can take these individuals to justice. We encourage students to report instances like this the Office of Student Affairs, and of course contact CAPS for virtual consultation. We also implore students to ensure that they are in contact with the Multicultural Resource Center for counseling and mentoring. We will not allow this to happen again on campus, and if we take action today and call on university officials to do what they should be doing, it won’t. Together, we can make a difference on this campus and ensure that there’s justice and equity for all communities especially the Black community at Penn State. Thank you.

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you both. I am truly humbled to serve alongside these two Representatives who have demonstrated, I think, what it means to lead in times of uncertainty and for causes of justice when it is not present. We have much a ways to go as a university — and as a student government, for that matter — in terms of rooting out the evils which this Resolution denounces. Still this is an important step toward that justice. The step of acknowledging this evil and standing up to it — staring at it square in the face, and reminding it that it has no place at Penn State — that’s the kind of leadership that a student government ought to demonstrate; and our student government has been very slow to demonstrate since its beginning. It takes courage to do so, and the individuals here with me today, as well as those who signed on to the Resolution and brought it to my desk, have demonstrated it and i’m very grateful for that. We have to remember that doing things like this, and taking substantive action and bold stances against things that harm our fellow students, might not always be the easiest thing to do, but it’s the right thing to do. And that’s, at the end of the day, what matters the most. Our Black community deserves better. Our Black students deserve better. They deserve a Penn State which will stand up and fight for them when they have been attacked just as they would a family member, because if we truly are Penn State, as Blake mentioned, then we’re all a family. And on that event, our family members were attacked, and we deserve to — they deserve the justice that the individuals who can, can deliver. This can never happen again at this campus or any campus in Penn State’s — across the Commonwealth.

I again want to give my sincerest thanks to Blake and Najee for joining me today, and to Representatives Aarthi Kallur, Cathy Zhao, Alex Wu, Cameron McColgan, Erin Boas, Marie Misener, Noah Robertson, Ryan Loscalzo, Siddhi Deshpande, Refugio Lara, Sydney Gibbard, and Xiaoru Shi for their leadership and support in bringing this resolution to my desk.

[The President signs Resolution #46-15]

Thank you both, again, for joining me today. Thank you very much for watching. Please take care, and please stay safe.

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