Saboteurs using "racist and vile language" infiltrated and disrupted online classes held by the University of Southern California, the school's president disclosed Wednesday, the latest incident in a trend some have dubbed "Zoombombing."

Zoom is a popular video-conferencing tool that many colleges and universities are using to help finish their semesters through remote teaching, after the coronavirus pandemic put a halt to in-person classes.

"We are sorry to report we learned today that some of our online Zoom classes were disrupted by people who used racist and vile language that interrupted lectures and learning," USC President Carol L. Folt told the university community in an email. "We are deeply saddened that our students and faculty have had to witness such despicable acts."

USC, a private research university in Los Angeles, has about 47,000 students, including nearly 20,000 undergraduates. Folt praised faculty and students for shifting gears to remote learning.

"When students and faculty gather, there is a trust that it is a safe environment," Folt wrote. "This trust has been breached by people intentionally trying to cause great harm at a time when our entire community is trying to cope with a global health crisis."

Folt said the university's information technology team was taking "immediate action" to protect classes from the phenomenon of "Zoombombing." "We will be vigilant in determining who was responsible for these actions, and we are doing everything in our power to stop it right away."

A USC spokesman reached by telephone Wednesday said he did not immediately have any further information about the incidents.

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