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President Leahy's Zoom Student Meeting Disrupted by Outsiders

default article imagePresident Patrick F. Leahy Ed.D. hosted an open meeting for all students via Zoom, a video conferencing app, on Wednesday, April 1. Joined by Vice President for Student Life and Leadership Engagement Mary Anne Nagy and Interim Provost & Vice President for Academic Affairs Rekha Datta, Ph.D, Leahy addressed Coronavirus concerns before ending the meeting early due to students sabotaging the intended Q&A portion of the call.

“I want to thank you all for spending a few minutes here,” Leahy said. “I wanted to make sure that I was available to directly share some information, and also, more importantly, [answer] questions which I’m sure you might have about how we’re doing this semester and how we’ll continue to progress the rest of the way.”

Leahy began his remarks with hopes of each student's health and safety, encouraging listeners to remind people within their lives of how much they are appreciated. “Not in my 51 years have I ever seen anything like [the Coronavirus], so I can imagine how all of you feel as well.”

Open meetings with students is a tradition Leahy began as President of another collegiate institution, he said. Attempting to carry the tradition to Monmouth despite the current health concerns, Leahy stated that it’s just as, if not more important to have the discussion in the midst of a crisis.

“Hopefully you’ve been receiving my messages,” Leahy said. “I’ve been joking that I recognize email is not always the most hip way to communicate with people of your generation, but I have all of your emails. It is a way that I can get information distributed out to you. In addition to that, I’m trying hard to record videos time to time.”

Leahy addressed the choice to enter remote learning and instruction for the entire semester, emphasizing a need to “settle in '' over the next five to six weeks to complete the semester in as orderly a fashion as possible.

Summer courses are still “a go,” according to Leahy. “I can’t promise you we won’t change some of the learning [methods].” As of April 6 the University has made the decision to hold all summer courses online.

At this time during the meeting, students unmuted their microphones and began to interrupt Leahy with curse words and slurs. Seemingly unable to figure out how to mute students' microphones before the intended discussion, Leahy attempted to talk through the noise.

Changing topics, Leahy moved the open meeting to the Q&A portion. After the first student intentionally inquired on an inappropriate and irrelevant topic, the meeting abruptly ended.

Mike Fazzino, Student Government Association President and senior communication student apologized to President Leahy, VP Nagy and Provost Datta on behalf of the student body.

“From what I understand, [it was] later learned that the voices in the background weren’t actually Monmouth students,” Fazzino said. “Despite what happened, I think it’s great that the administration is doing so much to reach out and hear directly from students.”

Few security measures are in place to prevent University outsiders from entering the meeting, as the open design of Zoom allows any user to enter a call without a need for identification.

“I’ll just shut this down if there’s no value in this whatsoever,” Leahy said. “I think it’s a shame that there are students that would benefit from this. Thank you all for joining, despite the nonsense.”

At time of publication, no follow-up email has been sent to students regarding a new open-meeting with Leahy.

Contact Information

CAMPUS LOCATION
The Outlook
Jules L. Plangere Jr. Center for Communication
and Instructional Technology (CCIT)
Room 260, 2nd floor

MAILING ADDRESS
The Outlook
Monmouth University
400 Cedar Ave, West Long Branch, New Jersey
07764

Phone: (732) 571-3481 | Fax: (732) 263-5151
Email: outlook@monmouth.edu