The Racist & Bias Incident Response Team has been notified and is working with the appropriate departments to identify the person(s) responsible.
Students, faculty, staff and visitors 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).
On the morning of February 8, 2022, an unknown individual (or group of individuals) disrupted an online Research Seminar of the Division of Health System Innovation and Research in the Department of Population Health Science in the School of Medicine. While the zoom meeting did use a waiting room that required the host to admit people, the meeting was not password protected or registration restricted, and the perpetrators were able to bypass the waiting room, take control of the sound and share screen function, disable host controls, and draw a swastika on the screen.
The meeting organizers ended the meeting, and sent a new password protected zoom link to the approximately 18 attendees and resumed the seminar.
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).
Perpetrators of incidents like this are difficult to identify; however, if through the course of some review or investigation (by the Office of Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action, University Police, or other appropriate investigative body) any university community members are identified as having perpetrated this incident, the Office of the Dean of Students, Human Resources, or other appropriate leader, will act within university policy designed to hold the individual(s) accountable and, if appropriate, provide additional education about the harm caused to the community by this type of behavior.
In the event someone is identified as responsible for this behavior, various privacy laws, including FERPA, may limit the university’s ability to share specific outcomes regarding disciplinary sanctions that may be imposed. However, updates and more information about the status of the incident will be shared, to the extent possible.
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.
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).
The U is committed to equity, diversity and inclusion
While we will not tolerate such behavior, when actions are undertaken covertly, we cannot stop them in the moment. What we can do—and what we will do—is build our muscles against racism, including antisemitism, as well as bias, microaggression, and discrimination in all its forms. We are committed to naming these harmful acts, acknowledging that they cause harm to our community, utilizing investigative tools, and holding the perpetrators accountable when they are identified. Additionally, we will proactively implement efforts that support, uplift, and celebrate our communities as we witness an increasing number of racist and hateful acts on our campuses across the nation.
We will not allow a cowardly act to further divide us or make us fear one another. This is the time to draw together and call out these acts when we see them and work toward a meaningful cultural shift. This work will be one of the foci of the newly announced Presidential Commission on Equity and Belonging.
The University is currently partnering with Hillel International on a comprehensive Campus Climate Initiative focused on understanding the experiences and needs of our Jewish student population and educating the campus community. Information about other types of critical conversations, including a discussion about intent vs. impact, surviving and thriving, claiming space and more, is available online.
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.
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.