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GVSU student organization victims of racist 'zoom bomb,' authorities investigating

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Authorities are investigating a potential hate crime at Grand Valley State University, after a minority student group’s meeting was interrupted with racist language and images. The incident took place Thursday night during an online meeting with a student organization known as the Black Male Scholars.

Grand Valley State University is reporting that someone from outside of the group hacked into the Zoom meeting, and posted racist materials that were demeaning towards the African-American community.

Jesse Bernal is the vice president for Inclusion and Equity and executive associate for presidential initiatives at GVSU.

“The University’s condemnation for the racist and hateful invasion of our Black Males Scholars virtual gathering, our care and concern for all those who had to witness this deplorable act, and our entire black community is our top priority right now,” Bernal said. “We are moving forward with every possible resource as quickly as we can; to identify any of the suspects who were involved in these intrusions.”

The University says its IT department was able to turn over suspect leads to police, and investigators are pursuing this as a criminal case. According to GVSU, the suspects are not related to the university, and may have acted out of state.

Commonly called "zoom bombing,"— it's a relatively new form of cyberbullying, where hackers will crash a meeting and post racist, pornographic or other shocking materials on purpose.

GVSU President Philomena Mantella issued this statement: 

"I want to express my profound sorrow to the students and employees who witnessed these reprehensible acts. We must condemn hate and bigotry and end ignorant behaviors that impact our underrepresented communities in disproportionate ways. This is a time for us to come together and care for one another.”

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