A Message from President Bob Caslen

April 25, 2020

Dear Students, Faculty and Staff,

Yesterday, members of the Association of African American Students (AAAS) at the University of South Carolina gathered over a Zoom call to celebrate the organization’s annual cookout event. Sadly, the event was interrupted by unknown persons who hacked into the call and displayed hateful imagery and offensive racial slurs. 

This is absolutely unacceptable, and we are saddened that our students had to witness these despicable acts. Our students, who gathered in fellowship during a time of hardship and uncertainty, expected that they'd be in a safe, welcoming environment. Unfortunately, that environment was breached by cowardly individuals looking to cause harm during this already difficult time.   

We will be vigilant in responding to this incident. Our Division of Information Technology has contacted Zoom and requested that the incident be investigated. Our Office of Equal Opportunity Programs has been notified and is prepared to investigate in the event that it is determined that University students committed these terrible acts. Our Office of Diversity and Inclusion stands ready to assist any AAAS member who needs assistance.

Sadly, this is not an isolated incident, and Zoom gatherings nationwide have been crashed by individuals intent on spreading hateful messages. And while Zoom has implemented recent security upgrades, clearly vulnerabilities still exist. We strongly encourage members of our community using Zoom to review the Division of Information Technology guidance on securing online meetings. I also encourage students, faculty and staff to report incidents of bias and hate through our online reporting form.

 At the University of South Carolina, we celebrate diversity and encourage respect for all members of the community through our Carolinian Creed. This incident runs contrary to the values we hold as Gamecocks, but also to the values we hold as a nation. We all stand in solidarity with AAAS. We stand together as Gamecocks in the face of this reprehensible event. We pledge once again our continuing commitment to respect the dignity of all human beings and the ideals of the Carolinian Creed.  

Forever to Thee,

Bob Caslen