Queens University Principal and Vice-Chancellor Patrick Deane has released a statement in regards to a disturbing online incident that took place yesterday.
According to the University, unknown actors hacked into a University lecture taking place on the online video meeting platform, Zoom, on Tuesday, Feb. 3, 2021.
The hackers reportedly displayed racist and disturbing imagery, including swastikas.
“Our university condemns the hateful, sexist, racist and anti-Semitic messaging that occurred during a Zoom hack yesterday…during a guest lecture from Yale Professor Kathryn Lofton at the School of Religious Studies,” Deane wrote.
“We are grateful to our staff and faculty for acting as quickly as they could to address this destructive and hurtful assault on what should have been an invaluable academic and learning opportunity,” he added. “Queen’s extends a personal apology to Professor Lofton and all those who attended for any harm they suffered due to this incident.”
Queen’s said they are actively working with their Information Technology Services team to investigate the origins of the forced intrusion and to ensure it does not happen again. The incident has also been reported to Campus Security and Emergency Services and to the Kingston Police.
Queen’s reportedly put Zoom security guidelines in place last spring following a sector-wide spate of similar Zoom hacking incidents.
“We urge all community members to familiarize themselves with these guidelines and to follow them closely to safeguard against these types of attacks,” Deane said.
“There is no place for harassment and discrimination on our campus. It is particularly alarming when there is no warning of such an attack and limited means of defense in an anonymous, cyber world.”
Queen’s is advising any students in need of support following the attack to contact Student Wellness Services, consult their online 24/7 resources through Empower Me or TAO (Therapy Assistance Online), see the list of After-Hours Services, or reach out to Faith and Spiritual Life.
The Office of Human Rights, Equity and Inclusion is also offering support to staff, students and faculty members who are seeking assistance in addressing harassment or discrimination matters.
Queen’s Hillel has also issued a statement on Instagram, in solidarity with any students negatively affected in yesterday’s attack.