WGSS faculty response to racist Zoom bombing incident

WGSS faculty response to racist Zoom bombing incident

An Open Letter to the Penn State Community

On January 27th, 2021, the Penn State Black Caucus suffered racist harassment by 51 users who invaded their Zoom room during the Spring Involvement Fair. The intruders attacked members of the Black Caucus leadership with racist and homophobic slurs, and violently derailed the meeting with white supremacist, homophobic, and anti-Semitic language, images, and gestures. As administrative leaders in the Penn State community we affirm the following.

  • We stand in solidarity with the students of the Black Caucus and condemn this attack on members of our community. No student at Penn State—or, indeed, any member of our community—should ever experience such threats, insults, and denigration. All members of our community deserve respect for their dignity as human beings. As leaders and advocates for students who endure injuries from systemic racism, the Black Caucus is entitled to security, recognition, and support in accordance with basic decency and Penn State’s educational mission.
  • We denounce these heinous acts as antithetical to the central values of our communities. The vile, denigrating acts directed toward the Black Caucus are an affront to the values of our university and to its commitment to antiracism in pursuit of a diverse, equitable, and inclusive intellectual community. They are contrary to the values and norms that underpin our local community and to the democratic system that unites us all. We see these attacks in the context of a history of systemic racism and violence against people of color and against LGBTQ+ and other communities. We embrace our responsibility as educators and members of a diverse Penn State community to work to eliminate racism and violence in all of its manifestations.
  • We call on the Penn State administration to investigate these acts and identify the perpetrators. Those directly responsible for these actions, and those who abetted them, must be held accountable. We would expect the derivative sanctions to be nothing short of those appropriate for hate crimes. Hate speech, harassment, and violent disruption of communal spaces that are intended to foster connection, growth and learning cannot be tolerated on our campus.
  • We regard it as the responsibility of all students, faculty, and staff in our Penn State community to challenge racism and perpetuate the values of mutual respect that our university holds dear. Each member of our community should ensure that our actions reflect these values and challenge racism and disrespect in our pedagogy, in our relationships, and in our interactions with one another.

Lee Ann Banaszak, Professor and Head of Political Science and Professor of Women’s, Gender
and Sexuality Studies

Lee Ann Banaszak, Professor and Head of Political Science and Professor of Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies

Eric Baumer, Professor and Head, Sociology and Criminology

Kristin Buss, McCourtney Professor and Head of Psychology and Professor Human
Development and Family Studies

Paul Clark, School Director and Professor, Labor and Employment Relations

Francis Dodoo, Acting Head of African American Studies and Liberal Arts Professor of
Sociology, Demography, and African Studies

Paola Giuli Dussias, Professor and Head of Spanish, Italian and Portuguese, and Professor of
Linguistics and Psychology

Caroline D. Eckhardt, Professor of Comparative Literature and English, and Director of the School
of Global Languages, Literatures, and Cultures

Charlotte Eubanks, Associate Professor and Head of Comparative Literature and Associate
Professor of Japanese, and Asian Studies

Barry Ickes Professor and Head of Economics

Michael Kulikowski, Head of History and Edwin Erle Sparks Professor of History and Classics

Leonard Lawlor, Interim Department Head and Edwin Erle Sparks Professor of Philosophy

Mark Morrison, Professor and Head of English

On-Cho Ng, Professor and Head of Asian Studies and Professor of History and Philosophy

Daniel Purdy, Professor and Head of Germanic and Slavic Languages and Literature

Lilliard Richardson, Professor and Director of the School of Public Policy

Tim Ryan, Professor and Head of Anthropology

Robert Schrauf, Professor and Head of Applied Linguistics

Willa Silverman, Head of French and Francophone Studies and Malvin E. and Lea P.
Bank Professor and of French and Jewish Studies

Denise Haunani Solomon, Liberal Arts Professor and Head of Communication Arts and

Cheryl Sterling, Associate Professor and Head African Studies and Associate Professor of English

Melissa W. Wright, Professor and Head, Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies and Professor,
The Department of Geography