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Penn State Police Provide Update On Black Caucus Hate Speech ‘Zoom-Bombing’

Penn State University Police and Public Safety issued a statement Wednesday providing a brief update on its investigation into alleged hate speech directed at the university’s Black Caucus last week.

Penn State said it’s consulted with a combination of internal and external resources in the investigation, including the Office of Information Security, FBI, Centre County District Attorney’s Office.

According to the department’s statement, charges of ethnic intimidation, harassment, disorderly conduct, and unlawful use of a computer could be filed against the 51 unauthorized users who allegedly crashed the Black Caucus’s Involvement Fair Zoom room on Wednesday, January 27. Those individuals reportedly directed “racist and homophobic slurs” at three Black Caucus executives and sent anti-Semitic and white supremacist language and symbols in that chat.

Penn State said there currently aren’t any indications that the individuals who directed the hate speech at Black Caucus members are connected to the university.

Additionally, the department commended Black Caucus members for coming forward about the incident to aid the investigation.

“Police applauded the victims for reporting this crime immediately and for taking steps to preserve crucial evidence, which has significantly supported the investigation,” the department said in a statement.

Penn State said administrators, including Student Affairs and Education Equity leaders, have reached out to affected individuals to provide counseling services. Police also offered support through their Victim Services unit, and the department’s diversity, equity, and inclusion director reached out to Black Caucus leaders to offer time to discuss the incident and find ways to support them.

Anyone with additional information regarding the hate speech incident is encouraged to contact University Police by calling (814) 863-1111 or submitting an online tip.

In a statement of his own, Penn State President Eric Barron said Saturday that the incident was “beyond disgusting” and “another reminder” of ongoing work individuals must continue to root out hate-filled acts.

On Friday, the Black Caucus said it wasn’t surprised by the “disgusting behavior.” Instead, it emphasized the importance of creating inclusive spaces on campus where marginalized communities and students can thrive.

“Communities that have been historically pushed to the margins have fought to be in inclusive environments that are safe and welcoming,” the organization wrote in its statement. “This incident begs the question: If we are not safe in our classrooms, on our campus, in our homes, in an online meeting, then where are we supposed to go?”

Following the incident, the organization reported it to Penn State, which quickly alerted student organizations and leaders about the hate speech. Dawn Savage, the program coordinator at Penn State’s Engagement Programs Office, said the university “strongly condemns” the actions.

“We are saddened that these actions have been taken against one of our organizations and will continue to work with our student organizations to ensure spaces where all are welcome,” Savage said in an email.

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About the Author

Matt DiSanto

Matt is a junior majoring in journalism and Onward State's managing editor. He's a huge Philadelphia sports fan, fantasy football aficionado, and washed-up drummer hailing from Collegeville, Pa. The quickest way to his heart is Margherita pizza. He loves Seinfeld, is really into video games, and would wipe the floor with you in Halo. Follow him on Twitter @mattdisanto_ for bad sports takes or email him at [email protected]

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