Fanshawe responds to sexually violent threats made on Discord

Header image for Interrobang article CREDIT: HANNAH THEODORE
Messages sent to Fanshawe College's Discord chat threatened to tamper with women's drinks at Oasis and Out Back Shack, two popular campus eateries.

*TRIGGER WARNING*: This story contains mentions of sexual violence, rape, drugging, and misogyny.

London Police are investigating sexually violent messages posted to Fanshawe’s Discord. Discord is a popular online chat space used by the college to facilitate open conversations between students.

The messages, posted in the general Fanshawe chat, which holds over 1,900 users, included threats to spike girls’ drinks with Oxycontin at Oasis and Out Back Shack, two popular eateries on campus. The messages were posted around 1 a.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 15, threatening that the drugging would be taking place Thursday, Sept. 16.

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“Trust me gals,” read the message. “Ya’ll be in dorms on thursday cuz we gonna rape ya’ll. Drugged by the drinks at oasis and out back shack.”

First-year student Azaria Murphy lives in Kestrel Court residence. Murphy said she was online when the messages began coming through early Wednesday morning.

“I was looking at them and I just didn’t know how to react at first,” she said. “I could tell that everyone was a little on edge because of it.”

Murphy hoped the situation would be resolved quickly, but due to the late hour at which the messages were sent, no moderators were present to filter the threatening messages. According to Murphy, the individual who sent the message, whose username was listed as “Adamxxxroxx,” began adding multiple users in the Discord and spamming them with the same violent message.

“So I had like, 30 notifications of the same message, and I could tell people were really uncomfortable,” she said.

Murphy and her roommate then reported the messages to a front desk attendant at Kestrel Court. By the time they returned to their room, the messages had been deleted and the user removed.

“I like to think I did what I could in this situation,” said Murphy.

In response to the threatening messages, a note was sent to Fanshawe Student Union (FSU) staff around 5 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 15.

“The FSU and Fanshawe College is aware of a social media post with threats to potentially tamper with student drinks in The Out Back Shack and Oasis,” said the notice. “Fanshawe Security, Fanshawe Residence, the London Police and our FSU team are aware and investigating the situation. The FSU is committed to maintaining a safe environment for all students and the College Community.”

Shortly after the message was sent to staff, the college released a statement via a Twitter thread saying that sexual and gender-based violence would not be tolerated at Fanshawe.

“Recently, we learned of sexually violent & threatening posts that initiated on Discord,” said one of the tweets in the thread. “Our leadership is working with Campus Security Services & the @lpsmediaoffice to identify the individuals responsible. Posts & users have been removed.”

FSU President Ricardo Souza said he was outraged at the “horrible” messages.

“Knowing that people might be within us, threatening all our students….here is supposed to be a safe space for everyone, everyone is welcome here, so that’s why we are taking this so seriously.

“I’m super proud of the FSU and of Fanshawe because they are taking this super, super seriously,” said Souza.

Souza added that the FSU provides support and education to students, through Sexual Awareness events held during the week of Sept. 20, as well as continued reinforcement of the support services available at the college.

Additional messages seen on Snapchat

Students also reported seeing concerning messages on Snapchat, including an anonymous message stating that “all females are sex toys and objects for men to use and beat when they do not obey their masters,” followed by a detailed description of a sexual assault. There has been no confirmation regarding whether the messages on Snapchat and the messages on Discord are connected.

First-year student, Bri Saunders was sent a screenshot of the graphic Snapchat message on Wednesday, Sept. 15. She said she felt scared and disgusted after reading what was said.

“I’m so glad I don’t live on campus,” she said.

Saunders also expressed concern regarding the messages sent on Discord, adding that she hopes the college is taking the threats seriously, comparing the situation to recent allegations made at Western University where students claimed on TikTok that 30 women had been drugged and assaulted during O-Week.

“I’m worried because it doesn’t seem like Western is doing much about it, so that worries me that Fanshawe might not take it as seriously either, when it’s obviously something very serious,” said Saunders.

On Thursday Sept. 16, the Ont. government released a statement promising strengthened support for post-secondary students reporting sexual violence or harassment. These changes would require institutions to update their sexual violence and harassment policies by March 2022, in order to shield students from irrelevant questions during sexual violence investigations at institutions and ensure that they can safely bring forward complaints without fear of disciplinary action.