British Columbia

UBC law school investigates racist Zoom-bombing attack

The University of British Columbia's law school is investigating after a participant interrupted a hybrid virtual presentation by drawing offensive images and writing out racial slurs in front of both in-class and online attendees.

Incident occurred during a virtual presentation, dean says presenter and viewers 'horrified'

The Allard Hall building at the University of British Columbia.
The Allard Hall building at the University of British Columbia. In an email, the law school's dean said the incident was a 'horrific experience for the speaker, for the audience, and for our community.' (Maggie MacPherson/CBC)

The University of British Columbia's law school is investigating a racist Zoom-bombing attack after a participant interrupted a hybrid virtual presentation by drawing offensive images and writing out racial slurs in front of both in-class and online attendees, the school confirmed on Wednesday.

The incident occurred last week at UBC's Peter A. Allard School of Law when professor Raymond A. Atuguba was conducting a hybrid presentation in front of a classroom and participants over Zoom. Atuguba is the dean of the University of Ghana School of Law.

In addition to the classroom audience, there were 150 participants over Zoom. Among students in attendance were members of the UBC Black Law Students Association.

A few minutes into the presentation, one or several Zoom attendees were able to draw lewd images on Atuguba's power point slides. Faculty staff tried to erase the images before anti-Black slurs were written, the UBC BLSA wrote in a statement on its Instagram page. Staff then shut down the Zoom presentation entirely.

In a school e-mail sent the following day, Ngai Pindell, dean of the Peter A. Allard School of Law, said it was a "horrific experience for the speaker, for the audience, and for our community."

Under investigation

A UBC spokesperson told CBC News an investigation into the incident is underway. It suspects the Zoom link and password were shared publicly on social media prior to the event and without the school's knowledge.

"The incident is a sad reminder of the racial animus that persists in our world, and it is more important than ever that the law school provide spaces to convene in safety and collaboration," wrote Pindell.

The school says it's working with its IT department to determine exactly what happened, and will be reviewing its Zoom practices.

The UBC BLSA said it was saddened and frustrated, but not surprised by the attack. It's calling for a transparent and public investigation.

"We hope the community at Allard takes this moment to reflect on the impact moments such as this have on their Black peers and the degree to which the contributions, merit, and very presence of Black people in law continue to be questioned," it wrote.

A report led by a UBC anti-racism task force found the university is a "locus of individual, institutional and systemic racism, in dire need of sustained and comprehensive anti-racism measures."

It put forward 54 recommendations to address systemic racism within the university. The university has promised to take action.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Jon Hernandez

Video Journalist

Jon Hernandez is an award-winning multimedia journalist from Vancouver, British Columbia. His reporting has explored mass international migration in Chile, controversial logging practices in British Columbia, and the global HIV/AIDS epidemic. Follow Jon Hernandez on Twitter:

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