Zoom Bombings At Yeshiva University

By: Erica Rachel Sultan  |  September 30, 2020

By Erica Rachel Sultan, News Editor

On Tuesday, September 15, a “Zoom bombing” occurred in a Wilf Sy Syms School of Business class, Principles of Strategy with Professor Al Golzari. This is the first Zoom bombing (when an unknown and unwelcome perpetrator disrupts an online class by creating distractions), known to the YU Observer, since the Yeshiva University administration has placed a systematic “waiting room” on every YU faculty member’s Zoom in order to prevent any additional Zoom bombing,  as reported by a YU ITS email which was sent to the all-students email listing, on September 4, after experiencing an unspecified amount of Zoom bombs. 

On the occurrence of the September 15 Zoom bombing, an anonymous student in Professor Golzari’s class, told the YU Observer, “As I was answering a question posed by my professor, I was interrupted by someone saying extremely graphic profanity … I was in shock, as was the rest of the class. Following the profanity was pornographic audio being played by the Zoom-bomber. I clicked through to see the rest of the class and everybody’s hand was covering their mouth in complete shock. I was also shocked because there is a waiting room before entering every class and I am not quite sure how the Zoom-bomber was let in.”

This incident comes after many others which merited the required waiting room at YU faculty’s Zoom meetings. Akiva Zahtz (IBC/YC ‘24), has been a victim to three Zoom bombings during the first two weeks of the online Fall semester: two of which occurred in general studies courses, and one which occurred in a Judaic studies class. Akiva shared a first-hand account of the incidents saying, “[Before the methodical Zoom waiting room was implemented], in the Judaic class someone joined with a fake name and began loudly asking stupid questions before just saying they were dropping out of YU and then they left the call. They rejoined a few minutes later but by then class had basically ended and then we didn’t see them again. They had their camera on though … In my Judaic studies class everyone reacted privately … The Rabbi didn’t seem to comprehend what the kid was actually saying.”

Zahtz continued: “During one of my general studies courses, the Zoom-bomber had their camera off with a profile picture displayed, and it would change to various pornographic images. The Zoom-bomber would play inappropriate sounds as well during the class. My general studies class is a lot larger so everyone reacted by audibly telling the guy to leave. The third class that was Zoom-bombed [on September 9] was a lot smaller and it was the same type of [Z]oom bombing as the second one with inappropriate things being posted. However, they started changing their name to the same one as members of the actual class which delayed kicking them out since the professor had to make sure the right person was being removed.”

When asked what both students thought of the new precautions taken into place due to the Zoom bombings, both agreed that the waiting-rooms, although faulty at times due to non-technologically savy teachers and the incident which occurred on September 15, are necessary to stop further disruptions.