Zoom bombers interrupt Tarleton classes

By: Madison Reed 

Multimedia Journalist 

On Tuesday, Aug. 25, a Tarleton State University biology class was hijacked through a Zoom conference call by two or three intruders which caused the Zoom meeting to be abruptly ended.   

Due to COVID-19 and social distancing, Tarleton has elected to offer two different delivery methods of teaching this fall, traditional online classes and the new Hybrid-Hyflex option, in order to ensure safety and social distancing amongst students and professors.  

These methods of delivery seemed to be well thought out and executed through the use of technology; however, due to recent events, professors and students are left to speculate if Tarleton anticipated Zoom bombings, the active hijacking or disruption of classes over a Zoom call. 

During the biology class students claimed to have heard a weird noise halfway through the class that left everyone puzzled and unable to focus on the material being taught. 

Texan News was able to meet with a student who had attended the class synchronously and discussed what had happened.  

A person in a blue shirt

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Tarleton State University freshman Lane Dowell.
 Photo courtesy of Lane Dowell.

Lane Dowell, a freshman at Tarleton, said, “We had started our Zoom meeting and we were just talking about the syllabus and stuff…it wasn’t our very first class period, but it was our first Zoom meeting…we were just kinda talking and going through, like, how this semester might look; and then, all of a sudden, we just heard this noise and it was really weird—like I don’t even know how to describe it. It just kept going and then someone else joined in…it sounded like little kids.” 

According to Dowell, the class had around 150 students present in the Zoom meeting that were witnesses to the strangers tuning in.  

“[The Zoom bombing] started about halfway through the Zoom meeting,” Dowell explained, “and it lasted like five minutes, I guess, before [Ms. Callie Price] ended it, because she would try to talk and they [the Zoom bombers] would start again.” 

He also explained that the Zoom bombers were not only making a lot of weird noises and using profane language, but they were also filling the chat box with nonsense. If a student tried to ask a question or make a comment in the chat box, it would disappear into the sea of spammed comments. 

“A bunch of other kids [in the class] were asking them to stop, because we’ve paid thousands of dollars to be here; and so, we don’t want to be interrupted by them. We wanted to learn—that’s why we are here and why we’ve paid so much money,” Dowell continued. 

Dowell stated that Ms. Price tried to kick the intruders out of the meeting, but they were able to get back in. This eventually led to Ms. Price ending the call. 

“Our professor had to just end the Zoom meeting because we couldn’t continue,” Dowell said. “It was terrible.” 

Ms. Callie Price, the professor of the biology class that was hijacked did release this statement, “I will tell you that I now have the tools for removing Zoom bombers and I am currently sharing these tools with my peers so that [they] can be prepared to mitigate those potential disruptions.”  

In an email to her students, Price gave a few precautions for the students to take to prevent any further disruptions to the class. 

“She’s going to lock the meeting, so be on time for the Zoom,” Dowell said. “She’s going to disable the chat…If you’re late to the Zoom meeting, you’re just going to have to watch it asynchronously. She is going to mute you, once you get in…she can’t prevent you from unmuting yourself, but it might bring up whoever unmuted themselves…so everyone would know who’s speaking. It says, ‘With these settings enabled, if a bomber were to come in, I could then remove them, and they will not be able to enter the meeting again.’”  

Other precautions Ms. Price gave to her students were to not release the zoom passwords to others who are not in the class because the only way they can bomb the class is if someone gave them the password.  

Dowell continued reading and explaining the email, “[Ms. Price] has reported the issue to the campus security team and they’re investigating. And if they find the student responsible for sharing the Zoom password, they will be reported to the Dean of Students, given an F, removed from the class and removed from the university.” 

If you have any information in regard to the identity of the Zoom bombers, it is encouraged that students report them to campus security. 

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