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Cal Poly's Chinese Student Association a target of racial slurs and images during zoom meeting

Posted at 11:37 PM, May 15, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-16 10:54:02-04

Cal Poly's Chinese Student Association met virtually this week and members say their Zoom call was interrupted with racial slurs and images.

Their Zoom call was interrupted by non-members shouting racial slurs, showing images of swastikas, and blaming Asians for the coronavirus pandemic.

"I don't think I've ever been verbally attacked like that ever in my life," said Rocco Costanzo, Cal Poly Chinese Student Association president.

The Cal Poly Chinese Student Association or CSA, was created to give students of diverse backgrounds the opportunity to share Chinese culture with the university and San Luis Obispo.

This week, the group found itself under attack. Members say as the meeting got underway, they started seeing people join they didn’t recognize and began to hear noises.

I thought someone forgot to mute their mic or something, but then we realized they were drawing swastikas and saying ignorant and racist things, that's when we realized we were being Zoom bombed," said Elaine Cheng, Cal Poly Chinese Student Association vice president.

In the Zoom meeting, the chat box filled up with xenophobic comments blaming the coronavirus pandemic on people of Chinese descent.

"The part that kind of irked me was when they started saying that we wouldn't have to do this, if you weren't Chinese. It just felt like an attack on who I am," said Thomas Tang, Cal Poly Chinese Student Association board member.

"They used a lot of racist terms towards Asian people and it was definitely targeted," said Costanzo.

Cal Poly says in a statement that its information security officer investigated the incident and found nearly 20 uninvited people on the call from around the world.

The CSA's Zoom meeting was publicly advertised and wasn't secured by a password which gave outsiders access to the meeting, but the group is still trying to figure out how they became the targets of the racist attack.

"One of them at least was from Kentucky, and so we were just confused at first because we thought, 'why would you spend your free time doing this?'" said Cheng.

"Its never happened to me before. I mean, I read about Zoom bombing, but I never thought it would happen to us," said Costanzo.

The university says the incident has been reported to Cal Poly Police and says administration has reached out to the CSA club to offer support.

The Chinese Student Association says they are working on taking additional security measures with their virtual meetings going forward to avoid a similar situation in the future.