February 3 2020. Queen's University Principal and Vice Chancellor Patrick Deane issued a statement following a racist zoom attach that took place on February 2nd during a guest lecture from Yale Professor Dr. Kathryn Lofton at the School of Religious Studies.
Dr. Lofton's lecture entitled “The Present Life of Blasphemy: Kanye West in American Popular Culture,” occured over Zoom on February 2nd and discussed the career of the American rapper, songwriter, record producer, entrepreneur, and fashion designer as an instance in the longer history of blasphemy. The event was not part of course curriculum though students from RELS163 attended, and the lecture was a free event posted on the Queen's University Events Calendar.
According to Queen's Hillel, a series of disturbing images including swastikas were made visible to the lecture's virtual attendees by an anonymous hacker or hackers.
Principal Deane stated that the University "condemns the hateful, sexist, racist and anti-Semitic messaging that occurred during a Zoom hack yesterday by unknown hackers during a guest lecture." He went on to thank staff and faculty for their speedy response and to apologize to Professor Lofton and all attendees for the harm they suffered. "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."
The Principal also said Information Technology Services is tasked on investigating the incident and to prevent a recurrence. Reports have also been issued to Campus Security and Emergency Services and the Kingston Police.
The Principal reminds members of the community to familiarize themselves with Zoom security guidelines and to follow them closely.
Principal Deane also urges any students who are in need of support following this 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 also offers support to staff, students and faculty members who are seeking assistance in addressing harassment or discrimination matters.