“Zoombombing,” also known as the unwanted disruption of Zoom online classes, has been occurring at schools across the country. At UCR, classes have been interrupted by people who hack into these spaces from outside of campus and other students who have received virtual classroom links.These individuals then spread racist, sexist, homophobic or other discriminatory language and interrupt the class.
One student, Brian Jenkins, a fourth-year Biology major, described his experience with “Zoombombing” that occurred during week two of his Anthropology 001 class. Jenkins said that the unknown individual entered the zoom session with a fake name that suggested a racist derogatory term and then proceeded to play a song that was extremely racist. He stated, “It definitely disrupted the course as half of the students were in shock and several others amused and the professor wasn’t sure how to resolve the issue.”
Elizabeth Munguia, a third-year English major, said she experienced loud yelling, laughter and music in her upper division English class which she found distracting and unpleasant. She expressed her frustration toward Zoom lectures as a whole, stating, “personally I am not a fan of these Zoom lectures, my learning came from discussing readings and articles as a class, and getting different point of views … discussions are now minimal.”
UCR leadership addressed “Zoombombing” in a campuswide email on April 8. The email states, “We have been working diligently with faculty on remote learning issues, and will inform instructors with any new protocols to prevent this type of disruption and disturbance while attending classes online.” The campus is utilizing XCITE to update teaching and student resources on the keepteaching.ucr.edu and keeplearning.ucr.edu sites as well as providing faculty, instructors and teaching assistants with the proper resources to keep unwanted individuals out of their meetings. These sites include instructions on how to create a unique meeting ID that is inaccessible to outside parties, limit screen sharing and mute participants. While these Zoom classroom interruptions may be caused by hackers not affiliated with the university, some may come from UCR students as well. The email urges everyone to report these incidents to Student Conduct & Academic Integrity Programs immediately.
In an interview with The Highlander, Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs Brian Haynes stated, “We as a campus community do not take these incidents lightly.” He stated that while all cases are unique, consequences will be severe for anyone who is reported to Student Conduct and there is no blanket sanction for these actions.
According to Haynes, no decision has been made on whether online learning will continue past this summer and it ultimately comes down to the decision of Chancellor Wilcox. “I am sure we will get guidance from the governor and federal officials to make that call,” stated Haynes. He ended his statement by saying, “these are unprecedented times that we find ourselves in and we’re all figuring things out together.”