GVSU President expresses sadness after black student group ‘Zoom bombarded’ with racist messages

ALLENDALE, MI – A Zoom virtual reunion hosted by a group of students from Grand Valley State University has been hacked by a suspect who displayed racist language and images, officials said.

The group of students, called Black Male Scholars, were having their kick-off meeting when the meeting was ‘zoomed in,’ Grand Valley State University president Philomena Mantella told students and staff Thursday, September 24.

“It was both shocking and deplorable, and it will not be allowed in the Grand Valley community,” Mantella wrote in Thursday evening message.

“I want to express my deep sadness to the students and employees who have witnessed this wrongdoing.”

The incident was immediately investigated by the university’s information technology department, which was quickly able to turn over suspicious leads to the Grand Valley Police Department, Mantella said.

The investigation shows that the suspect is not believed to be part of the GVSU community, the president said in an update on Friday morning.

Police are said to be investigating the incident as a criminal matter.

There were three other “bombings” reported by other student groups in Grand Valley that same evening, which are also under investigation, Mantella said.

She did not say in her post whether the other three groups had also received hate messages during the incidents.

Milos Topic, the university’s vice president of information technology, is working on additional protocols and training to improve virtual meeting security, Mantella said in Friday’s update post.

“We will not tolerate any behavior of this nature,” she wrote. “We are committed to each member of our community and their well-being.”

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