During a time of fellowship and conversation on Zoom yesterday, hatred reared its ugly head. Students were participating in virtual Milkshake Monday, sponsored by the Office of the Dean of Students, and they, along with our dean of students and staff, had to endure acts of racism disguised by online anonymity. The Zoom line was shut down immediately, and private discussions of care and compassion began.
Zoom bombing has unfortunately become an issue at institutions across the country, and this is at least the second instance at UT Knoxville since we’ve moved online. I am heartbroken that at a time when our campus community is having to endure so much, work so hard, and be so resilient in the face of an invisible virus, cowards are working in the shadows to spread hate and hurt.
Vol is a Verb, and that means we condemn acts of racism and act to support our deeply held principles that everyone matters and everyone belongs. We will shine light into the shadows. Our Office of Information Technology is working to track down the people responsible. We do not know whether they are students. OIT has also shared information on how to protect our classes and programs, and we are looking at additional alternatives. Our classes and programs—online and in person—are for our students, and we must work to make them places where all members of our campus community feel welcome.
We have again been faced with acts of hate. We will keep taking action to create the campus we want, whether we are on Rocky Top or online. We will stand as a Volunteer community—stronger together.
If you are a UT Knoxville student and are in distress, call 865-974-HELP. We are always here for you.