Are Fanshaw College rioters vandals or bullies or both?

Fanshaw Riot Courtesy CBC

A bully is “a person who uses strength or power to charm or intimidate others who are weaker. ” So, whether destroying property or someone’s reputation, let’s call the Fanshaw St. Patrick’s Day riot what it is at its core  — an extreme form of bullying.

Yet, one of the first articles I read on the topic had a thread of comments, from what sounded like students, openly complaining that the college president had no “right” to suspend anyone because the riot did not happen on school property — that it was solely a police matter. 

What ever happened to personal responsibility and integrity? Why does everything have to come down to  the perpetrators’ “rights?” What about the rights of others? Next thing you know we’ll be hearing that one of those kicked out of Fanshaw will claim their suspension violates their human rights and either go to the Ontario Human Rights Commission or sue the college for wrongful suspension. And, if they actually won, what message would that send?

Thankfully, nowever, as the days have gone on since the riot, most  people agree that it was correct that the local police have made a minimum of thirteen arrests and that eight Fanshaw students received suspensions.  Interestingly, other colleges piped up soon after the dust settled (literally) to say their institutions had rules about such behaviour as well (e.g., Sault College and Algoma University).

The reality is that society is very different from what it used to be. Publicly funded universities and colleges can be located anywhere. And, thanks to unnamed entrepreneurs who buy up property for the sole purpose of renting to students, even when bylaws forbid it, those students usually live near the colleges.  That reality, unfortunately, is not just a problem for Fanshaw.

In St. Catharines, for example, a formerly very lovely community has gradually become ugly because of the “Brock Houses.” In neighbourhoods wherever there is a Niagara College campus, it is similar. Municipal governments and non-student residents spend a great deal of time, energy and money trying to get the school in question to do something, anything to stop property values from plummeting. Yet, legally, what can the schools do apart from asking the municipality to enforce by-law infractions?

Well, we now know that students can besuspended for breaking rules beyond a school’s property. So,  just remember that whether the Fanshaw students were vandals or bullies, there needs to be “a zero tolerance” policy regarding post-secondary students and regulations or legislation in place much like the Mike Harris Safe Schools Act (which the McGuinty government undid by the way saying expulsions should be the last resort).

Update (1): Police have now named those charged. Some, however, who joined in, were only 15 and can’t be named under the Young Offenders Act.

Update (2):  I used the word suspended and expelled interchangeably at first because that is the way it was when I was teaching secondary school. However, as a regular commenter pointed out, the Fanshaw students are not expelled yet, just suspended.  So, I made the applicable corrections in text.  However, it appears that Fanshaw administration is considering how they might make the suspensions permanent expulsions.

11 thoughts on “Are Fanshaw College rioters vandals or bullies or both?

  1. I heartily concur with the move to expel the students! Hopefully they will learn from their mistake and take responsibility for their actions. If they do, they can still be afforded the opportunity to pursue higher education and become contributing members of society.

    Not to take the conversation off course, while the Safe Schools Act had good intentions (and I do support the core idea), it was certainly used as a blunt instrument by some school administrators. Far too many Special Needs students were expelled. Not to condemn education professionals as a whole, but there are those bad apples who choose to use such Acts to their own ends; after all, far easier to expel Special Needs students and save your own school / board funds than find a way to provide them with even some basic services. And from personal experience, there are those who use it against parents who advocate for their children instead of meekly accepting the “word” from those in authority. I won’t even tread into the toxic minefield that the Liberals created when they undid the Safe Schools Act and made changes to bring in such terms as “Exclusion” ……… that would be bad for my blood pressure! 🙂


  2. Makes you wonder what kind of a society would produce college and university students who behave like punks and thugs then expect to get away with it.

    They sully the name of the school, they should be expelled, made clean up, pay for damages caused then let them go to work until they grow up and learn how to take responsibility for their actions.


  3. Northern Ontario Tory — My point mentioning the Safe Schools Act is is because it was supposed to be used on a consistent basis. Had it been done so the bullies who acted out at Fanshaw might have been turned around in either elementary or secondary school. They don’t simply become vandals once they move on to college.

    But you are right to worry about special needs students. I can remember at least one recent incident involving an autism girl. In fact, I wrote about it. However, that was not the fault of the legislation but the way it was being implemented. If an autistic girl cannot manage in a mainstreamed environment, where either her or others safety is a concern, there should be an alternative educational environment provided. She should NOT be suspended.

    However, all these issues take us back to Bill 82. As soon as the NDP/Liberal coalition and Peterson governments decided they couldn’t afford the “most appropriate” program or service, they set about spinning parents that total classroom integration was best for their kids. Sometimes it is. Sometimes it isn’t. I wrote several academic-type articles on that bill and its subsequent IPRC regulation. Unfortunately — between 25 and 30 years ago — I predicted how things would turn out which gives me no pleasure at all.


  4. WOW, and all these years now we have had to listen to the feminists and the CBC tell us that fatherless homes run by single moms produce health youth and productive children just as a two-parent or same-gender couple raising children.
    The tragedy is that unlike the non-white ghettos in Toronto where the mom’s can blame racism for the good boy selling drugs or carrying a gun, these White-boys don’t have a crutch and we know the CBc won’t cover the fatherless male child angle.


  5. Rather than placing a label on them, I prefer to label their behaviour which was criminal and should be treated as such. As long as authorities refuse to hold everyone accountable for their behaviour, nothing will change. Our police forces have become an embarrassment. They refused to do their job in Vancouver, Montreal and London, Ontario. They also refused to do their job in Caledonia and the blocking of the freeway in Toronto by the Tamil Tigers. There are many other examples of the same and it has been going on for far too long. They prefer to charge and arrest law-abiding citizens defending themselves, defending family or their property, and of course a father whose four year daughter draws a picture of a gun. By rewarding bad/criminal behaviour, it only encourages more of the same.


  6. Alain — My husband and I were talking about Rudy Guliani’s “broken window” approach that cleaned up New York City.


  7. A minor clarification Sandy. None of these charged students has yet to be expelled.
    Only suspended for now.


  8. Good point Jon. I use the term expelled and suspended interchangeably. But, expelled means never to comde back. Suspended means temporarily.

    Update: Revisions made.


  9. Having gone to that college back in the early 70’s I have fond memories; but this riot stuff just hurts me to the core. Fanshaw is a great college and I hope that these punks are made to pay the price for their actions… Steve O


  10. Steve — What is so sad is it was just a few students out of control — compared to many thousands who have graduated. Like most, when we think of Fanshaw, we will think of you and your alumni compatriots!


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