Songwriter Stephan Moccio Apologizes For Convocation Remarks

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Canadian composer and producer Stephan Moccio, who co-wrote hits like “Wrecking Ball” for Miley Cyrus and Céline Dion’s “A New Day Has Come,” has apologized for remarks he made at a Western University convocation ceremony on Monday.

The musician, who received an honorary degree from the university, spoke about the first time he arrived in London, Ont. to begin his studies there almost 30 years ago.

Moccio, 46, said one of his “fondest memories” was “driving in off [Highway] 401 with a sign that said, ‘Thank you fathers for dropping off your virgin daughters.’”

He also recalled “one of the most iconic pieces of music” – a song about the university’s then-females only residence Delaware Hall. “Ooh-ah, Deli is the res, ooh-ah, Deli is the res, you move to the left, you move to the right, peel your banana and oomph take a bite.”

While Moccio got some laughter, many in Alumni Hall felt his remarks were degrading to women. A few minutes into his speech, someone heckled Moccio, who asked: “What did I say, sir?” It’s not clear what the man said, but Moccio replied: “OK, my apologies for that.”

In his speech, Moccio spoke about failure. “Perhaps I failed today in this speech,” he ad-libbed. “I don’t know what I said to this gentleman right now, but I will learn.”

In a statement issued later by Western, Moccio said: “I apologize without hesitation to the entire Western community, graduates, family and friends in attendance today. 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. I will strive to better represent the values of my beloved alma mater in the future.”

University president Amit Chakma called Moccio’s comments “unacceptable and not in keeping with what Western values in a respectful learning and working environment.” In a statement, he apologized to those “who were offended by these remarks and the subsequent distraction it caused.”