We write to acknowledge and address the disturbing and hateful incidents that took place during two events recently sponsored or co-sponsored by the Yale Office of LGBTQ Resources. Both events were targeted by malicious “zoom bombing” that included racist, homophobic, anti-trans, antisemitic, pornographic, obscene, and violent words and images.
As you know, the Office of LGBTQ Resources suffered an immeasurable loss with the unexpected death of Associate Director Andrew Dowe on Sunday, January 31. His untimely passing is felt deeply by so many of us at Yale and beyond. That these Office of LGBTQ events were targeted in such close proximity to Andrew Dowe’s passing feels unimaginably cruel and has added pain during an already deeply difficult time for so many in the community.
The first event occurred on Friday, February 5, Black Trans Storytelling with Ashia Ajani, D.L. Cordero, and Ty Cooper. The event, which was widely publicized and included members of both the Yale and broader communities, was intended to be an event for sharing stories around the theme/question “What does community look like for you?” with other Black trans, nonbinary, and gender non-conforming community members. The space was specifically designed to provide space and community for those who self-identify as Black/of African Descent and trans, nonbinary, non-cisgender, or gender nonconforming.
The second event occurred one week later, on Friday, February 12, during a weekly sewing circle. This sewing circle is a healing space where individuals separately but together are creating pieces to unite into a wall-hanging for the Office of LGBTQ Resources in tribute to Andrew Dowe.
The trauma caused by these events, during this time especially, is significant. Please know that there are a variety of Yale resources available to support impacted individuals. We hope that anyone impacted will please take advantage of one or more of these supports. They include:
- Yale Mental Health and Counseling. Please call 203-432-0290 or, after 5:00 p.m. and on weekends, 203-432-0123.
- Yale Chaplains. You can reach a chaplain by signing up to talk or by emailing any of the chaplains directly.
- For Yale staff and faculty, the Employee Assistance Program is also available for support.
These events have been reported to the Yale Police (YPD). Anyone with additional information to share is encouraged to contact Sergeant Kristina Reech and/or Officer Martha Cedeno-Ross. Sgt. Reech is YPD’s Sensitive Crimes and Support Coordinator and can be reached by email, Kristina.firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone, 203-432-9547. Ofc. Cedeno-Ross can be reached by email, Martha.email@example.com.
In addition, Yale IT can support ongoing efforts to safeguard events from these types of malicious incidents. We are aware that these are not the first Yale events targeted by such hateful acts. IT manages a website with information about managing and safeguarding Zoom events. We encourage event organizers to consider these safety measures when planning open meetings and events.
Last, we want to express how sorry we are that this happened. The acts were deplorable and targeted a community that already is experiencing deep pain and loss. In addition to all the resources contained in this message, please do not hesitate to reach out to us to discuss any aspect of this further.
Secretary and Vice President for University Life
Associate Vice President, Institutional Equity, Access, and Belonging
Director, Office of LGBTQ Resources
Assistant Director, Office of LGBTQ Resources