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Western University apologizes for 'unacceptable' convocation remarks

Last Updated Jun 18, 2019 at 1:35 pm EDT

Stephan Moccio, speaking at Western University Convocation, after receiving an Honourary Doctorate in Music. Western University

A southern Ontario university and a Canadian musician have apologized for what they call unacceptable and inappropriate remarks made at a convocation ceremony.

In its apology to those who attended Monday’s ceremony, Western University said comments made by composer and pianist Stephan Moccio were not aligned with the school’s values.

“Honorary degree recipient Stephan Moccio made comments that were unacceptable and not in keeping with what Western values in a respectful learning and working environment,” said the statement.

After receiving an honorary doctorate of music, Moccio recalled his time as a student at Western when he drove up to the university and saw a sign that said, “Thank you fathers for dropping off your virgin daughters.” His comments were met with awkward laughter from the audience.

Hours after the ceremony, Western’s president Amit Chakma released a statement that said Moccio’s speech went against the university’s commitment to creating a safe and respectful environment.

“To the entire Western community, I sincerely apologize to those who attended the ceremony and any others who were offended by these remarks and the subsequent distraction it caused,” Chakma said.

Moccio also released a statement posted on the university’s website apologizing for his comments that he called “inappropriate.”

“I apologize without hesitation to the entire Western community, graduates, family and friends in attendance…I realize the words chosen were not only wrong, but undermine decades of work on this very campus to bring justice to important women’s issues.”

Moccio also said he will “strive to better represent” his alma mater in the future.

Western has previously apologized for another incident at a convocation in October when philanthropist Aubrey Dan joked that he chose to transfer to Western in the early ’80s in part because of Playboy Magazine’s assessment that women at the university were “among the best in North America.”