Some students still not getting it

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Depending on who you ask, the Fleming Drive riot on St. Patrick's Day is a source of shame or a source of entertainment. Though it seems the majority of Fanshawe's staff and students have expressed disgust with the incident, others are seeing it as no big deal, as evidenced by the 67-plus Provincial Offence Notices handed out by London Police Services in the Fleming area since March 17. The PONs were issued for everything from liquor law violations to traffic infractions to a “set unauthorized open air burning” violation for a resident who had a bonfire in his driveway.

“Number-wise, when you look at the number of charges, you would think that people are just kind of brushing it off,” said Const. Dennis Rivest, Corporate Communications and Public Relations Officer for the London Police Service. “(Police Chief Brad Duncan) actually went on to say how disappointed he was that the behaviours continue despite (police) being out there, having our command vehicle out there and our officers on the ground and our officers charging people, writing tickets, and yet people are still out drinking, the one person (had) a bonfire in their driveway, all sorts of different issues. It is rather disappointing to see this behaviour is still continuing.”

Emily Marcoccia, Director of Marketing and Corporate Communications at Fanshawe College, said she felt the vast majority of Fanshawe students understood the seriousness of the situation. “One of the things that we need to remember is that there are 17,000 Fanshawe students in the community. So, a general question, ‘Are students getting it?' Yes. The vast majority of our students have not done anything inappropriate in the community, and in fact the opposite is true; we have such an overwhelming number of students that are contributing in a positive way through their volunteer work and other work in the community.”

“Have there been some people who don't seem to get the message in the Fleming area? Absolutely, yes,” she continued. “For the police to have to issue another 67 provincial offense notices since (March 17) is 67 too many.”

According to Rivest, police are going to continue to remain strict and hand out tickets in the area. “It's going to continue ... as long as it takes We're going to take a zero-tolerance approach, strict enforcement, and if you are committing an offence, you will be charged accordingly,” he said. “If it's an offence, you can probably guarantee you'll get a ticket — at least a ticket, if not arrested and charged criminally.”

Despite the serious consequences that have come since the riot, some people are finding humour in what happened. “I would consider myself ‘Team Funny' in terms of the jokes about the Fleming riot, but like every other joke there is a time and a place for it,” said Jes Clarke- Madamba, a student in Fanshawe's Advanced Filmmaking program. “The odd joke I hear from a stranger I find pretty funny and jokes between Fanshawe students are a true riot. It's honestly a joke. The whole thing is a joke.”

Some people are taking the jokes one step further. An image of a shirt that proclaims, “I survived the Fleming Drive riot Funshawe College 2012” has been circulating around social media, with some individuals saying they will create the shirt for a fee.

“I think it's very, very, very unfortunate and frankly disgusting that some individuals want to make jokes or money on the backs of our good students and their credentials,” said Marcoccia. “To continue to make light of or profit from this incident is continuing to devalue the reputation of the majority of our students.”

“How dare you use our students as a way to profit and then tell others, as we've read, that it's ‘just for fun,'” she continued. “It's not ‘just for fun' for the students who are looking for future employment ... I really wish students would stand up and take back their rights to not have to let others make fun of or personally profit by individuals like that.”

According to John DuGray, another AFM student at Fanshawe, the jokes are to be somewhat expected. “Travelling to other cities recently representing Fanshawe, as well as having guest speakers from other cities visit, has led to some light-hearted teasing about the Fleming riot. It is to be expected, though, as it has become an international news story. I haven't felt judged or discriminated against because of it, but it is an easy punchline at the moment.”

Some people have made comments on social media about how fun the riot was or how it's not a big deal, such as Twitter posts from @gloriaristocrat: “People need to calm down about what happened at Fleming Drive last night- personally I thought it was fun and wild! #partyon” (March 18) and @xtinacolakovic: “broken necks, Swat on our lawn, cars on fire, keg stands on the roof, beer allll day. I can easily say yesterday was the best day of my life” (March 18).

“I don't think (the riot is) anything that one should walk around being proud of,” said Rivest. “It's certainly an embarrassment to that particular area and to the city as well. I think that when we look at the idea that we're supposed to be adults that are living in that area, then maybe we need to start showing a little bit more respect. The rules are in place for people's safety and for people's enjoyment, and as I said earlier, we will continue to charge as necessary.”

“I believe the zero-tolerance approach is absolutely correct and I believe it will deter some behaviours on the short term,” said Marcoccia, “but the College remains very concerned that longer term solutions need to be found for the Fleming area.”