Students vanish in Zoom breakout rooms

Conor Bartol, Toothpaste Skeptic

Online learning has been thrown into disarray following the mysterious disappearance of twelve students in Zoom breakout rooms. In three separate classes, students were sent to breakout rooms, but in each case one of the breakout rooms did not return.

“It was weird,” said one student. “Four people entered a room, but they didn’t come back. The professor sent me to get them back to the group, but when I did there nobody, although I swear I could hear someone laughing far away…”

The disappearances have raised concerns over the safety of Zoom for teachers and students.

“I’m scared,” said another student. “What if I go into a breakout room and don’t come back? My professor said if we go in groups, we’ll be fine, but whole rooms are disappearing!”

Students have also reported strange anonymous messages in Zoom text chats reading “Where am I?,” “It’s so cold,” and “Can you tell me if I’m muted?” These have inspired a schoolwide Zoom search, consisting of volunteers entering random calls in hope of finding the missing students, but so far this has been met with no success.

Illustration by Anika Vucicevic.

Zoom has been in close contact with Whitman College as they attempt to fix the issue, but progress has been slow due to the disappearance of four Zoom employees who attempted to fix the issue. One employee filmed themself investigating the problem. The footage shows them opening a breakout room, followed by the sound of a scream with the image going static and finally an empty desk where they used to be.

Whitman students and staff are scrambling to understand the disappearances. The most popular hypothesis is that Zoom is haunted. Whitman has continued to use Zoom for online classes, leading to accusations of negligence, as students are at risk of being pulled into a dark and twisted Zoom-verse. In response to these concerns, Whitman College has developed the following guidelines to keep students safe:

  1.     Keep your camera and mic on.
  2.     Enter and leave breakout rooms in pairs.
  3.     If you are lost in Zoom, stay where you are.