University Hires Cybersecurity Firm After Black Students Targeted In Emails

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The University of Massachusetts at Amherst hired a cyber security firm after its Black students were targeted in a racist email attack.

The firm, according to The New York Times, is helping to investigate the source of the emails that were also sent to Black organizations on campus earlier this week. University Chancellor Kumble Subbaswamy called the attack "contemptible and cowardly" and that the emails were a part of a series of "anti-Black racist incidents" that have taken place already this school year.

"We will not be intimidated by the hateful acts of craven individuals who hide in anonymity," Subbaswamy said. "We stand with our students who have been victimized, and we will continually strive for a more equitable community grounded in the principles or dignity and respect."

The firm hired by the university, Stroz Friedberg Digital Forensics, was previous hired by Facebook to conduct an audit for the platform.

Bishop Talbert Swan, president of the Springfield NAACP chapter, shared a screenshot of one the emails on Twitter.

"We look down upon you," the message reads. "Regarding your intelligence, you are clearly stupid." Swan's son is a senior at the university.

UMass Amherst's history of notable Black alumni and faculty including Dr. Betty Shabazz and James Baldwin, is not enough to prevent the incidents from causing some on campus to feel "emotionally unsafe."

"You're not sure, looking to your left and to your right, you don't know who's holding these ideas, these anti-Black ideas," Dr. Jamila Lyiscott, assistant professor of social justice education, told The Times. "That emotionally takes a toll."

Dr. Keisha Green, associate professor of teacher education, told the outlet that Black students have come to her recently, expressing concern about living and studying on campus.

"I think students feel exhausted and tired and are also wondering how the university will respond in a way that feels like holding folks accountable," Green said.

The University's chief diversity officer, Nefertiti Walker sent a note to students confirming that there has been a rise in anti-Black racism on campus, including an incident in which someone drove past a group of Black students and yelled out "an anti-Black racist epithet."

"We condemn all acts of anti-Black racism and will work to diminish their intent to cause harm to Black students on campus," Walker wrote.

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