Mar. 17 riot labels students

Thirteen people have been arrested in connection with the riots near Fanshawe College this past Saturday night, with more to come. St. Patrick’s Day celebrations broke out into chaos when an intoxicated crowd of over 1,000 started a fire at Fleming Drive and clashed with local law enforcement, causing an estimated $100,000 worth of damage.

As eight of the 13 arrested are Fanshawe students, college president Howard Rundle stated that he was “disappointed” with their actions and that the student code of conduct can have an effect in special circumstances for off-campus incidents. The eight students have received temporary suspensions and will also be potentially expelled if an individual case analysis determines it to be appropriate.

Veronica Barahona, the student union president, has expressed concerns about Fanshawe’s reputation being damaged and this translating into students having difficulties finding work. In addition to this landowners are angry that this may cause their property values to go down.

Although the reports of the incident generally label the perpetrators as “students,” it is important to remember that because the rioting took place off campus the college is not directly liable. Therefore, the perpetrators should be regarded as “criminals” primarily. The actions at Fleming Drive were illegal under Canada’s law, not because of a college code of conduct.

The proposed punishments almost presume that the university is taking responsibility for the problem, when in reality rioting can occur in any intoxicated crowd. Part of this could be because the media was too quick to generalize the entire group as “students,” and now Fanshawe must do damage control to save its image.

Still, a riot like this could have broken out at Laurier and because it didn’t it is testament to the fact that large crowds do not always break down into anarchy in the absence of police intervention. Furthermore, this reflects well on the Laurier community when streets like Ezra are full with students and stay relatively controlled.

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