Dream Center Zoom Bombing

Current Status:

Although we believe this situation has been addressed in a way that should prevent future reoccurrence, those who believe they have been the target of bias, intolerance or discrimination may report an incident to the public incident report form (bias and intolerance) or the Office of Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action (sexual misconduct and discrimination).

Please direct any questions or concerns in regard to this bias incident to the Special Assistant to the Chief Safety Officer at RBIresponse@utah.edu.

What happened

On February 19, 2021, an unknown group of individuals “zoom bombed” a webinar sponsored by the University of Utah Dream Center and Salt Lake Community College’s Office of Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion, held over Zoom. The individuals used racist language in their audio feeds, targeting the Black community, as well as offensive speech and imagery targeting members of the Muslim community. The meeting organizers ended the meeting. Although meeting organizers had used appropriate protocols for logging into the meeting, including preregistration, the Zoom bombers were successful in disrupting the webinar.

Similar incidents have occurred at colleges and universities throughout the country, as well as the U, since late March 2020, when many institutions began using Zoom for online meetings and classes as part of their COVID-19 response plans.

What is being done

The incident was reported to the University’s Racist and Bias Incident Response Team, the Information Security Office, University Police and the FBI Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3). Salt Lake Community College has also reported the incident to law enforcement and are also looking into the incident.

Perpetrators of incidents like this are difficult to identify; however, if any individual involved can be identified, they may be charged criminally, and if any involved individual is identified as a university community member, the Office of the Dean of Students, Human Resources, or other appropriate administrator will take appropriate action to address the conduct and hold them responsible.

What to do

The University of Utah Information Security Office, a unit within University Information Technology (UIT), has previously released information regarding additional steps that can be taken to secure virtual meetings conducted via Zoom. Those previous communications can be found here: Security Best Practices When Using Zoom and Avoid Being Bombed, Keep Your Zoom Meetings Safe. Zoom has also published a blog post How to Keep Uninvited Guests Out of Your Zoom Event. It may be helpful to review these resources prior to scheduling your next Zoom event. Additionally, a story on helpful tips to secure Zoom meetings was distributed in the November 2, 2020, edition of @TheU.

Please contact Teaching and Learning Technologies (TLT) if you have any questions regarding how to keep your Zoom meetings secure. 

The U is committed to equity, diversity and inclusion

The University of Utah strongly condemns bias, discrimination, racism, bigotry and hate in the strongest possible terms. We support fostering an inclusive campus and are committed to diversity. U administrators want to assure students, faculty and staff that they are dedicated to creating a safe, welcoming and equitable campus where we work together to engage, support and advance a living, learning and working environment that fosters values of respect, diversity, inclusivity and academic excellence.

President Ruth V. Watkins said in a message condemning racism, “The rhetoric used by these groups does not align with or reflect the University of Utah’s values. These cowardly, faceless and non-university sanctioned tactics are designed to disrupt and frighten individuals and communities, and to garner attention for an insidious ideology that has no place on our campus or in our community.”

Students, faculty, staff and visitors who believe they have been the target of bias, intolerance or discrimination may report an incident through the public reporting form (bias and intolerance) for supportive measures, or the Office of Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action (sexual misconduct and discrimination).

Questions & Concerns

For any questions or concerns in regard to this bias incident, please contact Brian Jay Nicholls, Special Assistant to the Chief Safety Officer, at RBIresponse@utah.edu.

For additional reporting information, please feel free to visit here.

Response process
Support Resources

If you are currently in a situation where immediate medical, police or other emergency services are needed, call 911 or University Emergency Communications at 801-585-2677 (801-585-COPS). To file a complaint regarding discrimination or sexual harassment, contact the Office of Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action (OEO/AA) at 801-581-8365.

Support & resources
Report a Bias Incident

Any act of intolerance, motivated wholly or in part by bias or prejudice against an individual’s race, color, ethnicity, age, religion, size, disability, national origin, language, gender, veteran status, identity expression, sexual orientation or age—regardless of severity—can be reported using this form.

Submit a report