ST. BONAVENTURE, NY – In a strongly worded statement, St. Bonaventure University President Dr. Andrew Roth on Friday condemned remarks made about President Barack Obama and the first lady by Carl Paladino, an alumnus and former trustee of the university.
“Such racist and demeaning comments have no place in civil society,” Roth said after Artvoice, a weekly newspaper based in Buffalo, published Paladino's comments.
Paladino’s remarks were included in an article in which Artvoice asked business and community leaders from the Buffalo area about their wishes for the upcoming year. He told the newspaper he hopes the president catches mad cow disease and dies and that he would like to see Michelle Obama “return to being a male and let loose in the outback of Zimbabwe where she lives comfortably in a cave with Maxie, the gorilla.”
“Mr. Paladino’s remarks in Artvoice are reprehensible and in complete contradiction to the values of St. Bonaventure University,” Roth said. “At St. Bonaventure we believe in an inclusive community that values diversity as a strength.”
Roth said he believes the vast majority of St. Bonaventure’s extended family reject Paladino’s comments.
“It is true that a university is a place that encourages political discourse, but a civil discourse that, as Lincoln said, speaks to ‘the better angels of our nature’,” he said.
Roth’s statement on the issue drew praise on social media from prominent St. Bonaventure alumni.
“Never been prouder of my alma mater. Bravo to Dr. Roth for this meaningful response,” New York Post columnist Mike Vaccaro tweeted.
“My alma mater, @StBonaventure, rightly calls out alum Carl Paladino for his deplorable comments. Good, and done,” New York Times columnist Dan Barry wrote in a tweet.
Before Roth issued his statement, Barry had tweeted, “I suggest my alma mater, St. Bonaventure, somehow flunk alum Carl Paladino, who clearly missed the Franciscan part.”
A petition to change the name of the Paladino Townhouse on the St. Bonaventure campus is being circulated online and had 245 signatures at 9:45 a.m. Saturday.