COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS/NBC News) – A Zoom gathering for University of South Carolina students was interrupted by racist images and language.
The Association of African American Students was hosting a virtual version of its annual spring cookout of Friday when it was overrun with racial slurs, Nazi flags, and obscene comments.
In a statement UofSC president Robert Caslen called the incident “unacceptable and disgusting.”
He said university officials are investigating the incident.
A spokesperson from Zoom said in a statement that the company “condemns such behavior” and has updated several features to help users protect their meetings.
As the university investigates, leaders with the Association of African American Students are calling for school leaders to look into more required training in diversity and inclusion.
“They were spewing racial slurs, and profanity. And even though they didn’t have their cameras on, we were able to see pictures that they had posted, and those pictures included people in black face. And there was even a swastika that we could see. So, we tried to remove them from the call, but that wasn’t successful, and I know our advisors were able to cut off the chat feature that they were also using to spew these racial slurs,” said AAAS President, Toneia Douglas.
Douglas continued, “Everybody’s welcome, it doesn’t matter your race or anything like that. We figured that the only people who would come, since it was virtual, would be people who wanted to be there.”
“It didn’t feel real. This disbelief turns to anger, and the anger turns to fear,” said UofSC student Aidan Baker. “You can’t prepare yourself for what that’s going to feel like. You think you know what to expect, and you know what it’s going to feel like and how to respond and how to process, but in that moment, you don’t.”
“I’m sure a lot of people feel power behind a keyboard, and I’m sure whoever did this felt the same thing, so I’m sure this had a lot to do with it,” said Baker.
Back in January, the university dealt a separate public incident of this nature where a student made a Martin Luther King Jr. Day post on social media that used a racial slur.