Durham LGBT students' Zoom call 'hijacked with homophobic abuse'

23 October 2020, 11:40

Durham University said any incidents would be reported to the police
Durham University said any incidents would be reported to the police. Picture: PA

By Ewan Somerville

A university LGBT+ event on Zoom was “hijacked” by callers shouting “homophobic and racist slurs”.

A virtual meet-up to welcome Durham University freshers was disrupted by at least 15 people who played loud music, shared “sexually explicit” videos and hurled abuse at the attendees, a coalition of student groups has said.

The students said they were left feeling threatened and unsafe afterwards.

The event was for new students who are already facing Covid restrictions.

The anonymous callers were able to join the Zoom call through a link shared internally across St Mary’s College’s channels.

LGBT groups at the top university said the hijacking of the call was “aggressive” and targeted, adding that it was “nothing less than a hate crime”.

“The participants of this call were left feeling upset, threatened and above all, unsafe. It goes without saying that this kind of malicious behaviour is completely and totally unacceptable,” the groups said, warning of a “toxic culture” at the university.

It went on: “The fact that this was not simply an individual acting alone, but rather a coordinated attack from a number of people, is a reminder of how routinely unsafe and unwelcome our community is made to feel.”

A Durham University spokesman said: “The University has been informed about incidents of Zoom bombing, where uninvited guests share their screens to bombard real attendees with disturbing or distracting content, leaving participants feeling distressed, threatened and unsafe.

“Such behaviour is not acceptable at Durham University and will not be tolerated. Incidents will be reported to the Police.

“Every member of the University is expected to treat others with respect and tolerance so that every member of our community can live, study and work in a safe and inclusive environment.”