- Dec 11, 2018
A University of Miami instructor was teaching a business analytics class over Zoom and sharing his screen when students spotted something unexpected– a pornographic bookmark tab describing college girls. Videos, photos and social media posts capturing the incident soon went viral, and the lecturer, John Peng Zhang, is no longer employed at UM.
The chain of events began on March 26 when a student left his microphone on during a business analytics Zoom class. He noticed a bookmarked tab on the professor’s screen that read “Busty College girl fu…”, and he pointed out the tab for the whole class to hear. With this, much of the class soon took notice, aside from the professor. Zhang continued teaching the class as normal, while the students quickly snapped photos and videos of the incident.
By the end of the class session, videos of Zhang’s screen started to spread on social media, notably first on TikTok. By the time Zhang’s next class started, many of the students had already seen the eight-second video which zoomed in on Zhang as he talked and then panned over to the bookmark, above it a miami.edu website URL. The bookmark remained for another session that evening giving students more of an opportunity to spread it on social media.
Some students never found it funny and saw danger in the video immediately. Jade Johnson, a junior marketing major in Zhang’s class, told her classmates to stop posting it as soon as she found out.
“This is someone’s livelihood,” she said. Johnson immediately saw the potential implications of the video being so broadly watched and knew his job could be at risk. “I told my friends, this guy could lose his job.”
Johnson explained that earlier in the semester when she was experiencing personal problems, Zhang was the most caring of all her professors and said he seemed sincere.
“He was one of my only professors who seemed to care,” she said. Johnson also said she felt Zhang didn’t deserve to lose his job.
“I think firing him is a little extreme…He didn’t do anything illegal,” she said.
One of the issues raised with students was the specifics of the pornographic bookmark, mainly that it was related to a college student.
“It was the fact he is a college professor and saved a video to his bookmarks describing college girls,” Hill said. “A video to watch over and over again.”
Hill isn’t alone– other female students expressed discomfort over the bookmark. They said that for female students, it could be hard to have future discussions with him without thinking about it.
“It’s hard not to think he’s looking at you like that,” she said. “I wouldn’t turn my camera on…I don’t want him to look at me.”
A University of Miami instructor was teaching a business analytics class over Zoom and sharing his screen when students spotted something unexpected-- a pornographic bookmark tab describing college girls.