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Statement of solidarity on Dragsoc “zoombombing”

Published on 3rd November 2020 at 17:27.

The Students’ Union stands in solidarity with DragSoc members, and all LGBTQ+ people, after a recent online social was interrupted by a number of anonymous homophobic and transphobic callers posting horrific slurs. We are currently working with ITS to investigate whether these “zoombombers” can be identified, and will make sure to keep the Dragsoc committee informed with the process of this investigation. Homophobia, transphobia, and any form of hate speech break both our Zero Tolerance and Safer Spaces policies, and can result in referral to a University Disciplinary panel once an investigation has taken place. This behaviour will absolutely not be tolerated. For more information, please read our Equality and Diversity Policy.

Despite the difficult circumstances that we’re working in, societies like DragSoc have been working really hard to create safe, fun and inclusive online spaces for their members and the wider student community. An example of this was the Halloween-themed social that was targeted last week. We commend the handling of the incident by the DragSoc committee, who acted quickly to end the call and start a new one that was accessible only to members. It is deeply upsetting that LGBTQ+ people continue to be harassed. Homophobia and transphobia remain huge issues that cause a great deal of hurt to many in our student community, but we will never stop fighting for everyone’s right to equality and safety. We must join together in condemning this behaviour - both in this instance and anywhere else we see it. 

We are all adjusting to our new online environment and the safety concerns that it brings. Although we think that the responsibility for this abhorrent behaviour lies solely with those who engage in it, nevertheless we are anxious to try and minimise student exposure to these kinds of attacks. Our events team are working with Dragsoc to ensure that something like this doesn’t happen again and we have put together some tips on how to make your online event as safe as possible. After this incident, we will insist that student groups’ virtual events include some form of security settings, often featured within the streaming platforms themselves. On zoom, you’re able to set a number of security measures, depending on what is most suitable for your event (e.g. advance sign ups, waiting room etc). More information and a copy of our virtual event risk assessment template can be found here, the advice and guidance for virtual events specifically can be found on the second tab; and IT Services also have their own steps for staying safe on zoom

If you have any concerns about hosting an online event then please contact [email protected] who can talk you through our risk assessments and the suggested safety measures in more detail.