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Bowdoin IT expands Zoom licenses to students, increases security

April 10, 2020

Due to the Bowdoin community’s increased use of the video conference platform, Zoom, for virtual classes and meetings, Information Technology (IT) acquired Zoom licenses for all students, faculty and staff. These licenses were obtained, in part, because of the “Zoombombing” that occurred April 1 and 2, during which unknown individuals disrupted a virtual class and a meeting.

Senior Vice President and Chief Information Officer for IT Michael Cato said in an email to the Orient that prior to the move to virtual learning, the College had 150 Zoom licenses for faculty and staff. When the College transitioned to remote learning, IT increased the number of licenses to 350, which were mostly for faculty and staff use.

This past week, however, Bowdoin Student Government (BSG) agreed to contribute to cover the cost of licenses for all students.

“BSG input was helpful in providing additional examples of how students were looking to use Zoom in their learning with faculty, but also in sustaining community and staying connected,” wrote Cato.

“There was a clear preference from student groups for Zoom over [Microsoft] Teams, since you can see more people,” said BSG President Ural Mishra ‘20 in a phone interview with the Orient. “That face-to-face interaction is important, [so] BSG decided to see what we could do.”

Now, participants are required to use their bowdoin.edu login to gain access to Zoom virtual meetings. Additionally, the Zoom “waiting room” function is now available for meeting administrators.

“[Waiting Room] can be a great way to control who comes into a session and prevents someone from joining a meeting just because they have the link to it,” Cato wrote.

These two security measures are intended to thwart all future attempts at Zoombombing. Last week’s Zoombombing incidents involved two unidentified individuals who are thought to not be part of the Bowdoin community. One Zoombomber subjected the meeting participants to a “barrage of sexist and racist language and imagery,” wrote Cato.

In an email sent to the student body on Monday, Cato wrote, “It is our hope these two [security measures] will address this issue while reducing the burden while learning and teaching through Zoom.”


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