Virtual event

ECC virtual event interrupted by racist intruders – Observer

ECC, IT Police Investigate ‘Zoom Bomb’; the school is organizing a solidarity event in response

Intruders “Zoom bombarded” a virtual event hosted by Elgin Community College Multicultural and Global Initiatives Committee (MAGIC) on Monday, November 1. The event was part 11 of their Black Lives Matter series on racial disparities in education.

ECC Executive Director of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion, Anthony Ramos, said about seven to eight unidentified people activated their microphones and interrupted MAGIC co-chair Clarke Hallpike with hateful and racist speech, including instances of the N-word in chat.

The individuals also took over the meeting’s screen-sharing feature with a video of a Ku Klux Klan rally. Ramos explained that the video included various homophobic and racist terms.

“…My immediate first reaction is, how can we stop it?” said Ramos. “And then how do we communicate care and support to the people who were there and support our employees who ran the Zoom space to make sure they had what they needed to run this.”

ECC Police Chief David Kintz said it was not known if the individuals were working together.

Minutes after the intrusion, members of the management committee began muting and moving away the individuals involved in the attack. The Zoom meeting then ended and restarted moments later with the waiting room feature enabled.

“I would like to emphasize,said Ramos. “The program was interrupted, but it was not stopped.”

The re-meeting began with an open discussion about the intrusion, then the panelists resumed the originally scheduled topic.

ECC President David Sam emailed students the morning after Wednesday, Nov. 2, explaining what happened during the intrusion and that a police report was being filed with the department. CCE police. The email also linked ECC Wellness Services so students had the option to contact someone if they needed help.

“It happened, didn’t it? Sam said. “You can make all the plans and if someone has the will to infiltrate an organization, they can do it.” But there are plans underway to ensure this doesn’t happen again in the future.

ECC’s IT department has given settings that can be configured in advance to prevent a “Zoom bomb” from occurring in the future.

Settings include barring attendees from entering the meeting before the host, disallowing file transfer and screen sharing, unmuting attendees upon entry, locking meetings after their start and the ability to remove participants at any time.

The IT department believes Zoom’s best control features include three other advanced settings: waiting room, advanced registration, and webinar format.

The police and ECC IT services are working together to identify those involved. The IT department is working on finding the IP address of the attackers. If identified, the school will pursue the charges, including cyberstalking with a hate crime classification.

Eight days later, on Wednesday, November 9, ECC hosted a response event to the hack titled “Community Conversation: Reaffirming ECC’s Commitment to Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion After a Hate-Based Incident.” The event featured a panel of ECC faculty, including Ramos, Sam, Kintz, Hallpike, MAGIC Co-Chair Susan Timm, and Dr. Escortina Ervin the Executive Director of Equity, Diversity, Inclusion and Compliance at Joliet Junior College.

The conversation updated the community on the police investigation and gave students and community members an opportunity to talk about what happened.

“As a black student, I thought it didn’t affect me, but as my day progressed, it bothered me,” said ECC student Mariah White. “With the encouragement of Dr. Hardy and my educators at ECC, I was able to pull through. But I want people to understand that this is what we experience on a daily basis.

Representatives from Human Resources and LifeWorks were available during the Community Conversation to support employees and help them navigate the college’s Employee Assistance Program.

ECC wellness professionals will continue to provide support to students both on campus and in a virtual setting.

“There is zero tolerance for hate and its display towards any group that performs, whether in person or in the virtual environment,” Sam said. “And we will do everything we can to prevent that from happening and whatever steps we have to take, we will.”