During a University of Georgia’s Hispanic Student Association Zoom meeting, several white men yelled explicit and offensive words, mocked the Spanish language and showed an explicit photo on their video screen.
The incident took place on Sept. 3. Now weeks later and without further action from UGA, HSA said they decided to start their own investigation, according to a statement they released Tuesday.
HSA said on Sept. 26, Zoom Customer Service told them that if they provided the meeting ID, date, time and the name with which the men joined the call, they would refer that information to their Trust and Safety department to begin an investigation. “If the investigation concludes and the department sees fit, they will release the names and emails of the Zoom-bombers,” according to HSA’s statement.
“This came as a surprise to us given that the University said that Zoom does not release identifiable information such as IP addresses, so they would not be able to move forward with the investigation. While Zoom does not provide IP addresses, they are, in fact, able to provide the aforementioned identifiable information,” HSA’s statement said. “The fact that the University never asked for the screen names of the individuals (which Zoom needs for the investigation) makes us question if the University even attempted to start an investigation with Zoom.”
Despite originally stating the identity of the individuals could not be found and the UGA Equal Opportunity Office was unable to move forward at the moment, the statement said that the assistant director of EOO emailed and said she had received “some additional information on the Zoom meeting.” The assistant director then said she believed their assistance could help identify the individuals, according to HSA’s statement.
According to the HSA, the email from the assistant director came five days after HSA released a statement on Sept. 25 stating UGA had not done enough to protect and address the needs of the Latinx student community.
“We are immensely disappointed that the responsibility has once again fallen onto the victims to hold the perpetrators accountable,” HSA’s statement on Sept. 29 said.
HSA stated they would be happy to meet with UGA’s administration to discuss the incident and also their demands which include UGA releasing a statement in support of the Latinx student community and detailing how they plan to make the students feel more welcomed on campus. HSA also demands a “calculated effort” toward equity and handling discrimination cases.
HSA’s president Nicole García Sánchez said she was disappointed with UGA’s Student Affairs statement because it lacked to answer any of HSA’s original demands and concerns. García said HSA functions as a safe space for the Latinx community when those students don’t feel welcomed on campus. She said when their safe space is attacked “it feels horrible.”
“If the school doesn’t hold faculty, student and staff accountable when they do racist things, they will feel like they can get away with anything and continue attacking minority students,” García said.