The Musicians for Social Justice club (MSJ) was a victim of Zoombombing during a panel on June 12 to discuss the minority experience at Montclair State University’s John J. Cali School of Music.
During the event, which was called, “#MSJChats: The Minority Experience at Cali,” a group of unidentified individuals hacked into the Zoom meeting. They played songs with racial slurs and displayed Nazi and Soviet flags. The incident is currently under investigation by the John J. Cali School of Music, College of the Arts and Montclair State, according to a recent Instagram post from MSJ.
Despite the interruption, MSJ restarted the meeting with extra security measures. President Jahmai Person addressed the Zoombombing when the meeting resumed.
“Just as we work from out of our hearts and out of love and out of respect from each other and each other’s different views, there are people who do not work from love and respect and people [who] only work on hate,” Person said.
Person and MSJ Vice President Mikaela Guzman hosted the panel, which featured commentary from alumni, current students and Anthony Mazzocchi, the director of the John J. Cali School of Music. The panelists shared their concerns about the lack of diversity at the John J. Cali School of Music.
Terralyn Hayes, a senior music major, shared the initial shock she felt when she noticed that she was the only person of color at her audition.
“Will I say that it didn’t catch me off guard when I walked into the room and didn’t see any people of color when I auditioned?” Hayes said. “I was thrown by that, like to the point where I literally thought to myself am I in the right room?”
Maya Henry, a freshman music major, noticed that this lack of diversity has led to racism.
“I’ve had to deal with a lot of microaggressive and racist remarks,” Henry said. “There’s one that, for the life of me, I can’t get it out no matter how hard I try, but I remember there was something that somebody saw on Snapchat, but it was along the lines of ‘Well it makes sense that Black people are the only ones who are performance majors because that’s the easiest degree to get,’ and that just instantly broke me and it made me think am I good enough to be here?”
Mazzochi said students who were a target of racist remarks can report the incident to him.
“Those of you who know me know that my office door is almost always open and that I welcome you to come in and share with me whatever you need to in what I hope is a safe space and [it’s] something I try to create,” Mazzocchi said.
The panelists also addressed the need for diversity in the faculty and staff of the John J. Cali School of Music.
“I believe that all the professors there are amazing and they are absolutely qualified to do what they do,” alumnus Al-Jabril Muhammad said. “However, they do not possess an understanding of some of the student body.”
Mazzocchi agreed that there needs to be more diversity and promised to make improvements.
“It’s very clear our faculty is not diverse enough,” Mazzocchi said. “I promise to make some very measurable changes in that, that you will see year over year and that will start this coming year.”
MSJ plans on continuing these panels, but the next date has not yet been announced.