SGA drafts statement condemning racist Zoom bombing incident


The Berkeley Beacon Archives

An SGA meeting at the beginning of the 2019-20 academic year.

By Diana Bravo, Copyeditor/Photographer

The Student Government Association drafted a statement at a Student Assembly meeting Tuesday condemning a recent hateful incident that afflicted a new organization for LGBTQ+ students of color. 

The statement responds to a “Zoom bomb,” an interruption of a Zoom meeting held by Spectrum by a group of unknown individuals. Those individuals hurled racist and homophobic slurs at members of the organization about half an hour into its first meeting. The individuals’ cameras remained off, and they joined the meeting under aliases. 

“Obviously it’s horrible that this happened, [and] that students of color who identify as LGBT+ even had to make a separate organization because they didn’t feel welcome in the existing LGBT-based organizations,” Executive Vice President Jehan Ayesha said in the meeting. “When [these students] finally made space for themselves, people invade and make them feel unsafe in their own space. While Spectrum was directly targeted, I don’t think it’s a reach to say this is also targeting the larger LGBT folks of color community [at Emerson].”

The proposed statement calls for the college to hold the perpetrators accountable by publicizing racist incidents, clearly defining hate-speech and hate crimes, and by being more transparent about the investigation process for racist incidents. 

SGA plans to hold a vote on the statement before publishing it. If passed, the statement would be SGA’s first piece of legislation under its new legislative model. 

The Zoom bombing is one in a long-running string of discriminatory incidents on or around campus. Last year, swastikas were found drawn in the Piano Row stairwell, prompting a similar condemnation from SGA. Just days after the discovery of the swastikas, the college found hateful graffiti targeting on the door of a suite in the Little Building, which targeted an Asian student.  

Earlier in the meeting, SGA appointed two members to positions in its legislative branch. Clarisa Carrillo became the new Intercultural Senator, while Mei Qi became the class of 2023 Financial Equity Senator. 

Koby Polaski, who served as SGA’s class of 2023 Financial Advisory Board representative briefly during the fall 2019 semester, was appointed to the same position. Polaski ran an unsuccessful campaign for performing arts senator during the organization’s spring elections. 

SGA also planned to appoint Sharon Boateng to be the class of 2023 Student Experience Senator but postponed the appointment as she was not present at the meeting.

Student Assembly also appointed two members to the college’s Student Organization Affiliation Process panel, Executive Vice President Jehan Ayesha and Performing Arts Senator Chandler David