You know, for an event that doesn't exist, Western sure is selling an awful lot of t-shirts.
The crackdown on "fake" Homecoming parties hasn't stopped students from throwing their own parties, but Western has made it clear that this FOCO is unsanctioned, dangerous and strongly discouraged.
But, oddly enough, they don't seem to mind profiting from it. If you go to the basement of the University Community Centre, the university-owned bookstore is filled with students buying Western merch for the upcoming FOCO. The store is mobbed with customers, so much so that they've expanded their stock well into the entrance area outside of the store. While I was down there, one employee sighed and told me it's "been an absolute madhouse" all day.
So here's the million-dollar question: how can you condemn an event as unsafe and morally unsound while actively making wads of cash from it?
It's naked hypocrisy. Nicely done, Western: one hand raised in sanctimonious rejection of FOCO and the other grasping at the profits.
And oh, God, the moralizing. "University is a time of learning, including what it means to be a good citizen in a community," says President Amit Chakma in a mass email sent out to students. "Taking part in an event which may constitute blocking a public road and jeopardizing safety is totally contrary to what is expected of Western students."
It's hard to disassociate Western University from FOCO, or take the moral high ground, if you're openly selling merchandise branded with Western's logo to students headed straight to these "unsanctioned street parties." Like, hey, we absolutely denounce gambling, but we'll happily sell you a roulette table.
Here's the thing: it's not as if Western issued some vague, half-hearted bulletin about drinking safely and then just accepted the influx of student customers into the bookstore. They sent out a foreboding email and university members approached students personally, warning them on an individual basis against hosting street parties.
When I asked an employee why all the merchandise was out and about, he replied, "FOCO," without a hint of irony. I said I thought FOCO was expressly forbidden by Western, and his response was a perfect summation of the admin's attitude.
"We're not going to not sell it to them," he said, shrugging, washing his hands of the whole thing. "What they do with it — well, that's up to them."