AU and WCL move in-person meetings and classes online through Jan. 24

Officials are concerned about security threats following Capitol insurrection as inauguration nears

AU and WCL move in-person meetings and classes online through Jan. 24

The Mary Graydon Center, pictured in 2016. 

The few classes at American University and Washington College of Law meant to be held in-person following the beginning of the spring semester will be held online through Jan. 24 due to “security concerns,” University officials announced in an email on Tuesday. 

While most courses were already planning to meet online, a few exceptions for certain classes are still impacted. In addition, the officials asked community members to avoid AU’s campus — especially via public transportation — until Jan. 25. 

University officials and the Office of Information Technology also requested that faculty members increase security for their online classes and other meetings held via Zoom by limiting access to only those with AU email accounts. They also advised faculty to carefully manage access for meetings with external personnel. Officials hope that these changes will prevent instances of “Zoom bombing,” where hostile users connect to a meeting to disrupt it, as AU College Democrats experienced during a Student Government debate in April. 

“With the ongoing security concerns in Washington, DC following the January 6 events at the US Capitol and in preparation for any potential incidents in the lead-up to the January 20 presidential inauguration, all AU class meetings, including at the Washington College of Law, will be fully online through January 24,” the officials wrote. [Emphasis from original]. 

The guidance from Acting Provost Peter Starr, Vice President of Campus Life and Inclusive Excellence Fanta Aw and Vice President and Chief Information Officer Steve Munson follows the insurrection at the Capitol on Wednesday and an email from Aw on Monday advising students to avoid downtown D.C. due to safety concerns surrounding the presidential inauguration and possible increased coronavirus spread from the crowds. 

They also encouraged faculty to set up recurring Zoom class meetings with the additional security guidance, and directed anyone with questions to the OIT Help Desk at helpdesk@american.edu

On Monday, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser asked Americans to participate virtually in the presidential inauguration instead of coming to the District. Bowser also enacted an order last Wednesday to extend a state of emergency until Jan 21. 

dpapscun@theeagleonline.com 

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