Students at Fanshawe College in London, Ontario are definitely testing the old claim that post-secondary students are our best and brightest. The first week of classes at Fanshawe have been a downright liquor-fueled mess marked with senseless destruction and mayhem.
Things got off to a horrible start on the weekend when Fanshawe students moved back into the community. 24 officers of the London Police Service were assigned to patrol the area in an attempt to maintain public order and prevent serious incidents. Despite these high numbers, more police were required as the weekend deteriorated into chaos.
As parties got out of control, a number of piles of garbage left from students unpacking were lit on fire. The fire department was called at least six times.
To add insult to injury, people pelted the fire department with beer bottles in an attempt to prevent the dousing of fires. The London Free Press reported Wednesday that a fire fuelled by old furniture was so intense, the city had to replace damaged pavement.
Things did not improve during the week. By the end of Wednesday, 187 students and 65 non-students were facing a total of 292 charges.
The most serious charges stem from an alleged sexual assault Tuesday night. Two Fanshawe students are charged with sexual assault after a female student was allegedly pushed against a wall and fondled in one of the college’s residence buildings. One of the accused, Joseph Lamanna, 21, is also charged with robbery after a separate incident which occurred later Tuesday night.
Police and community officials are fed up with the rowdy behaviour and the college is promising to “throw the book” at any students caught causing disturbances.
Tensions are high in London as students enter the first official weekend of the school year. A weekend normally marked by parties as many students enjoy their first tastes of freedom.
This is not the first year of problems in the community surrounding Fanshawe. Last year, police used pepper spray to break up a crowd of over 500 students who were out of control.