Fontana draws controversy over colourful remarks to students
London Community News
By Mallory Clarkson/London Community News/Twitter: @MalloryClarkson
Joe Fontana has once again drawn controversy over colourful comments he made during an official address.
At a Western University orientation week event Monday evening (Sept. 3), the mayor reportedly quipped, "I know the president of your school wants you to study hard, but that's all bullshit. You should just have fun."
Fontana dismissed his remark, saying his lingo may not have been as appropriate as it could have been, “but 7,000 people were having a lot of fun and I thought it was important for a mayor to say welcome to our city.”
“Yes I talked to them about how important it was to study … but I also told them they need to have fun in our city,” he added.
Asha Ramji was one of the students who was listening to the mayor’s address Monday evening. She said she found Fontana’s comment funny.
“I think it was more meant to be a joke because the University of Western is known for partying and all that,” the first-year students said. “He’s the mayor; I’m sure he wouldn’t actually tell us to not work hard in school.”
Sophomore Brent Miller agreed, adding he thinks the mayor was trying to garner future votes for the next municipal election.
“I’m sure people are going to remember that and he played the drums for us and danced — it was fine,” Miller said. “I feel like he wants to make it more youth-friendly so he can get more business here and encourage people to stay here after graduation.”
A first-year bio-medicine student at Western, on the other hand, said she found Fontana’s comment frustrating.
“It’s nice to go out and have fun, but it’s pretty bad when the mayor is saying … like he’s basically disregarding education and is saying to slack off,” Angelica Sheridan said. “It’s like they’re not expecting much out of students, plus not wanting us to exceed.”
Following his speech Monday, Fontana stressed when making a speech, you have to sometimes look at your audience. He said if he went on stage and lectured the crowd, he would have been hissed at or tuned out.
“Perhaps I use B.S. too often; perhaps it was inappropriate,” he said. “But I wanted 7,000 students to know they have a mayor who understands what their purpose in life is.
“One is to have a great education, second is to be responsible citizens in our city.”
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