UC San Diego apologizes for racist comments that interrupted Zoom call

A May 31 Zoom call involving leaders at UC San Diego was interrupted by people making racial comments aimed at the university's black community.
A May 31 Zoom call involving leaders at UC San Diego was interrupted by people making racial comments aimed at the university’s black community.

UC San Diego leaders apologized for an incident May 31 in which unidentified people interrupted a Zoom call to make racial comments aimed at the university’s black community.

The incident occurred while members of Associated Students, which represents student interests, were talking with university officials about UCSD’s grading policies.

The call was hosted by AS, which opened the meeting to the university community to make comments.

“Several people on the Zoom call abused the space for dialogue and began calling out derogatory and racist names and words targeting our black community members,” according to a joint statement by AS and UCSD executives.

“This disgusting and appalling behavior led to the Zoom being closed temporarily while the security settings were adjusted. Once the adjustments were made, the meeting and the dialogue continued in a more secure manner — and one we hope felt safer for the community members present.

“We apologize to every member of the community affected by the acts of hate that occurred during the Zoom call and how they may have impacted members of the black community at UC San Diego. We know that the creation of a safe space is essential to any movement that wishes to respect those who are discriminated against.”

The incident happened while thousands of demonstrators were marching in downtown San Diego to protest the death of George Floyd, a Minneapolis man who died while being arrested by police. One of the arresting officers has been charged with third-degree murder.

Floyd’s death has sparked huge and sometimes violent demonstrations across the United States.

Like other schools, UCSD has turned heavily to Zoom in recent months as a way of talking and teaching during the coronavirus pandemic.

Many people like the teleconferencing app. But the quality of Zoom’s security has been widely criticized in the wake of racially charged “Zoom-bombing” incidents at places such as the University of South Carolina and California Polytechnic State University.

There also have been incidents in which people have placed pornographic images on Zoom calls that were being conducted at elementary and high schools.

UCSD has added more than 11,000 students in the past decade but has struggled to recruit blacks, who represented less than 2 percent of the school’s undergraduates in fall 2017. ◆