An unknown individual hacked into a Zoom meeting for Oklahoma City University’s spring graduation today and displayed racist images and language.
Assistant director of media relations Rod Jones said the incident happened near the conclusion of the OCU digital graduation ceremony.
“It was right at the end of ceremony, and there was a list of names scrolling across the screen — of the graduating students,” Jones said. “And apparently some hacker had taken over the meeting and blanked out the screen and displayed a racist message.”
Jones said he did not know if one of the administrators for the meeting had regained back control of the video conference, but he said the ceremony ended right away.
“They just turned it all off. At least that is what I saw from my end,” Jones said. “It just went away.”
Approximately 650 people were attending the OCU digital graduation ceremony, which was for the entire class of 2020. At this time, OCU is still planning to hold an in-person recognition ceremony when that becomes possible, Jones said.
Jones said OCU President Martha Burger held a group conversation with everyone involved in putting together the ceremony after the incident.
“She just wanted to come out and say how sorry she was that it happened,” Jones said.
Burger released a community-wide statement regarding the cyber attack on the graduation ceremony.
“We are heartbroken and outraged at the hate-filled attack that occurred at the end of our virtual graduation celebration today,” Burger said in the statement. “During a time that should have been focused on recognizing our graduating students, an unknown source was able to bypass the system and display racist and offensive language. I want to be clear, OCU stands against racism and racist behavior.”
The university has initiated a report to federal and state authorities, the statement said.
“We are deeply hurt and saddened by the pain that has been inflicted upon our community. The Class of 2020 has been champions of diversity and inclusion, and we will continue to show love and support to each other as a university family in the aftermath of this hate.”
A receptionist at OCU Police Department said she could not provide information about the situation and that the police chief does not work on weekends.
OCU isn’t the first entity to have an unknown hacker drop into their Zoom meeting. On April 23, the State Board of Education’s zoom meeting was “Zoom-bombed” with sexually explicit language.
New York Attorney General Letitia James announced a deal with Zoom on Thursday to work on cracking down on Zoom-bombers.