ASI works to limit zoom meeting interruptions

Katrina Singleton, News Editor

CSU Bakersfield’s Associated Students Inc. was recently “Zoom bombed” during their weekly board meeting on Friday, April 17. The so-called intruder posted vulgar messages in the chat, played inappropriate music, and drew on the agenda that was displayed for all attendees of the meeting to see. 

  Candice Livingston, ASI board chair, was able maintain order and try to make sure the incident did not distract from the importance of the meeting, but Livingston said it was not easy.  

  “The disruptiveness of the “bombers” took away any ability to keep most professional etiquette of the meeting intact. What I did to keep calm was remember that Dr. Zelezny was able to deal with these types of issues before by being calm and firm in her responses to anyone attempting to be disruptive. So, I then muted anyone who was playing inappropriate music over the audio, and when there was inappropriate drawing on the screen, I stopped my screen sharing,” Livingston responded via email. 

  Livingston was also saddened that someone would disrupt such a meeting, and believes it is adding more stress to the entire COVID-19 situation. 

  “Not only did control of the meeting go mostly to the disruptive attendees, but the amount of the meeting that I usually have purview over was now taken over by them as well. The students were not truly served in this meeting because people were bored enough to do vulgar things behind the screen where they can hide. They put so much effort into being disruptive, why didn’t they put that effort into being a productive person and bring constructive conversation to the meeting?” Livingston asked.  

  ASI Executive Director Ilaria Pesco revealed that the intruder to the meeting was not from CSUB.  

  “IT was able to see that it was from abroad,” Pesco responded in an email. 

  Pesco added that there is not much ASI can do to prevent people from coming into the meetings and interrupt due to the Gloria Romero Act of 2000 which requires ASI meetings to be open to the public. Pesco noted that ASI cannot even equip the waiting room feature provided by the Zoom application because using the feature would cause ASI to fall in violation of that law. 

  “Because we host an open meeting, we were concerned about Zoom bombers especially since it happened early that week at Runner Walk and Talk.  Since these aren’t students from CSUB Zoom bombing, it leaves ASI with little we can do,” Pesco said via email. 

  Though the interruption took up some time from the meeting, ASI did not let the intruder stop them from getting down to business and making sure students were provided information they needed to know about the CSUB campus. 

  “ASI still has business it has to conduct.  IT helped us with some temporary features during the meeting just so we can weed out people who were disturbing,” Pesco wrote in an email, “ASI will continue to hold meetings, advocate for students, and be a place where students can come for information.  We will have more people helping to get rid of Zoom bombers and will take steps within the law to protect our meetings as best we can.” 

  Unless California’s governor, Gavin Newsom, suspends the open meeting laws currently in place, there is nothing drastic ASI can do to lessen the chances that Zoom bombers may gain access to the meetings. 

  In ASI’s recent meeting held via the Zoom application on Friday, April 24, the attendees were asked to authenticate themselves by creating and logging into a Zoom account before they were let into the meeting. Also, while the screen share option is being used, the chat box is disabled and is opened when questions are asked.