Many say highly-anticipated French Montana wasn’t best choice

Opinions abound across the University of Ottawa campus following a rocky 101 Week concert featuring Moroccan-American rapper French Montana. A brief performance, tech issues, and confusing admission requirements led to a night that left a sour taste with some students.

The majority of the criticism was directed at French Montana himself. Consistent promotion of hard drug use during the concert and some questionable lyrics have contributed to a public image that some have claimed is not consistent with the values of the Student Federation of the University of Ottawa (SFUO) or the university.

Bethany Fourtin, a participant in 101 Week, questioned what kind of precedent the SFUO was trying to set for first-year students. “There was a definitely some whiplash … getting a lecture on consent and personal responsibility 20 minutes before a concert with some dude telling me to do cocaine and downgrade my sense of self-worth,” she said, referencing Take Back the Night, an event on campus rape culture and sexual violence which preceded the show.  

Several other students echoed those sentiments. “I really don’t have a problem with (French Montana)— plenty of guys are worse. But to have a school endorsement is… weird? I really don’t think my fees should be spent supporting a guy who brags about getting shot in the head,” said Sarah Roy-Brown, a first-year biology student.

Others argued that public institutions have an obligation to give back to domestic artists.

“There are a ton of Montreal rappers that you could get on stage for half the price,” said Jonathan Tepay, an attendee. “They could put on a banger of a show, introduce some of the (students) from out west to the Quebecker (music) scene.” He went on to say that flying a rapper in from the United States “doesn’t really inspire a lot of faith in our local guys.”

Others felt that hiring out massive international artists was a frivolous expense, particularly given the SFUO’s ongoing financial difficulty and the increasing cost of tuition.

“It’s like they want to prove the school is cool or whatever. I’ve already paid my tuition. You don’t need to get my attention. Invest in your clubs, because that’s what I am going to remember, not a 20-minute concert,” said Tasha Steinhower, a first-year criminology student.

Beyond a few hiccups, 101 Week has otherwise been a resounding success, introducing new students to the school and the city. Students commended the social opportunities it provided them and said it helped them break out of the isolation and uncertainty that first-year students often experience after moving to a new city.

“A lot of people tell you it’s hard but it doesn’t really hit you until you get here how lonely it’s going to be,” Tepay said, “But I think 101 Week and the res staff were great in helping people get out of that funk.”

As of the date of this publication, the SFUO has not responded to requests for comment.