Last weekend, St. Paddy’s Day, London Ont. joined the ranks of cities of fools. Violent, vandalizing fools. Students at Fanshawe Community College in the city’s east end overturned cars and torched a CTV news van. Houses near the campus were damaged and several people were injured.
Over what? High tuition fees? The upward spike in unemployment among young people? The political struggle in Syria? Outrage over the Kony 2012 video? Nope, just too much partying and too much green beer. And, important to note, Fanshawe is in the suburbs, not downtown. There aren’t a lot of bars and clubs around, no one congregates there other than the college students and area residents.
This isn’t the first time Fanshawe students have run amok for no apparent reason. From Canoe News: “Oct. 30, 2009: About 500 people at a student party on Thurman Circle near Fanshawe College pelt police with beer bottles, overturn vehicles and smash windows. Police charge 22 people.” There was at least one such incident a year before that.
But these were before last year’s Stanley Cup riot in Vancouver, also starring foolish youth going nuts. In that case, their home team lost the game. Not much of a reason, granted, but at least a reason. In London? Nobody seems to know, but everybody seems to have lost patience. Some of those involved have posted on Facebook and other online sites. You’d think they’d have learned after Vancouver – don’t take pictures with your phone and don’t post on Facebook! Police are going through the material, online and contributed to them.
Local tv news said local high school students and “some University students” were involved as well. The University of Western Ontario is the only university in the city. Glad to see you’re putting the high cost for your education to good use.
The only major vandalism I remember when I was at Western was, once a year, the engineering students bricked up the bridge that was a main access to the main campus. Everyone knew it would happen sometime in the academic year, including maintenance staff who would dismantle it in the morning, early bus drivers with a load of students anxious about being late for class, and profs with morning classes who knew few students would turn up. It was pretty funny, the thought of students out there all night long blocking off the bridge as quickly as they could. And they always did a good job of it, putting their learning to practical purpose. Even, so I heard, competing against the previous classes that had done it, with each year’s job assessed on the length of time it took to demolish it.
I don’t know if they still do it. Yes, it was vandalizing university property and, yes, it inconvenienced people. But I don’t think too many people really minded. The engineers were using what they were learning and we all took pride in how well they had done the job.
Throwing bottles? Bashing in windows? Overturning cars? You don’t need higher education to do that.