Dal Black Studies prof speaks out after bigot interrupts virtual meeting
HALIFAX -- A Dalhousie University professor is speaking out tonight after her virtual meeting with black students was taken over by someone who attacked the group with racial and homophobic slurs.
The practice is called "Zoom-bombing" and it's been happening more often in virtual meetings since the start of the pandemic.
Dr. OmiSoore Dryden hosts virtual monthly discussions for Black students in health professions and graduate school at Dalhousie University.
On Wednesday evening, her Zoom meeting was interrupted by an unwanted guest.
"Somewhere in the back of my mind, I think is this the one that's going to be zoom-bombed, and I was taken back for a minute, but then I was really angry," said OmiSoore Dryden, who is the James R. Johnston Chair in Black Studies in the Faculty of Medicine at Dalhousie University.
The term "Zoom-bombing" refers to a person or group who enters the meeting with a purpose of bombarding attendees with disruptive or disturbing content.
Dryden says a large number of participants were entering the call when the attack happened.
"That's when we started to hear the racist slurs, misogynist slurs, sexist slurs, homophobic slurs," Dryden said.
Dryden quickly ended the meeting.
She says an advertisement for the online event was shared across social media and the university's student body.
The man who chaired Nova Scotia's Task Force on Bullying and Cyberbullying says Zoom-bombings come with their own challenges.
"Because the internet is still kind of the untamed world in the untamed west, getting jurisdiction and being able to enforce laws against this kind of abuse is still very difficult," said Wayne MacKay, a Professor Emeritus of Law at Dalhousie."And it's difficult, albeit not impossible, to track down the people doing these kind of things."
Social media strategist says Anita Kirkbride she's been on a "bombed Zoom call" before -- and offers a solution.
"People now are inviting a smaller list of people to join a zoom where they're going to know who they're letting into the room and that really is the best way to avoid this kind of stuff happen," Kirkbride said.
Meanwhile, Dryden says she will be meeting with the university's IT staff for a plan moving forward.
"Black people have the right to gather and have conversations without white supervision or white surveillance," Dryden said. "We have the right to do this and we especially have the right to do this at Dalhousie."
The university is encouraging anyone affected by this incident to reach out for available resources and supports.