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Fleming ablaze of disrepect, fire

Ivana Pelisek | Interrobang | News | September 8th, 2008

Six uniformed officers made their way in and around Fleming Drive September 2 knocking on residents' doors, welcoming students to the city; and informing them that the city's noise bylaw will be enforced.

“The purpose is to educate students so that their stay in London will be a positive and enjoyable experience,” said Media relations' constable Amy Phillipo.

Parties were in full swing on August 31 as students from surrounding areas celebrated the start of a new school year.

On the surface it would appear as exactly that, students reuniting with old friends and meeting new ones in the process.

Who knew they were going to be using move-in boxes to set fires in order to have a good time?

That is not what the City of London Police expected to happen when new students arrived to the city.

During Sunday evening as the festivities carried on, while Project LEARN officers were patrolling, at least six calls were made to London Police to help deal with the problem.

Students threw beer bottles, got into scuffles with one another and set fires near the Fleming Drive area, a well-known area for student housing.

“Police had to escort fire fighters,” said FSU President Jonathan Hillis, upon their arrival with hopes of putting out the fires.

In order for the fire rescue team to prevent the fires from spreading, they had to act quickly, but reports claim the bottle throwing continued to the point where fire crews were unable to assist without the help of the police.

“Our students have an obligation to be good neighbors,” said Manager of Marketing and Communications Emily Marcoccia.

The biggest problem of the night was fire. As students started to unload their possessions, they tossed the boxes into the streets, later setting them on fire.

“The city of London has been asked to remove garbage on the day of and residents advised to not put their garbage out until the day of,” said Phillipo.

“I knew there was going to be partying, just not to this extent,” said Hillis. “Whoever is caught, will be made an example by the college.”

Both Police and College officials have repeatedly stated that the majority of students are great citizens, but there is a slim percentage who cause problems.

The consequences vary for those responsible for the setting of fires.

“We have made it very clear, in response to the past weekend, that our new code of conduct does allow us to apply it in situations where off campus behaviour affects the safety of people on campus,” said Marcoccia. “It is much too early to determine, but clearly, if we find out, and it is proven, that Fanshawe students have done something off campus that is very serious, like setting fires, we can determine if that affects their status on campus.”

“Officers will continue to patrol the areas surrounding downtown, the University of Western Ontario and Fanshawe College,” said Phillipo. “Either way - we have a clear message to students, while we welcome them all, and we fully anticipated parties, we did not anticipate that students would set fires in the community. It is illegal and dangerous, and it is affecting the reputation of the College and all students. We have numerous e-mails from very concerned citizens, and we have media interest from across the country. It does not reflect well on the thousands of great Fanshawe students who are doing so many good things in this community.”

Police also said that London's Noise By-law is in effect twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week and will cost an out of court set fine of $215 for each occupant.

“Subsequent Police response could result in all occupants being summoned to court to answer in front of a Justice of the Peace with a maximum fine up to $5000 for each person,” said Phillipo in a press release. “Citizens are encouraged to report noise bylaw violations as it assists the London Police Service in our enforcement efforts.”

Project LEARN has only been in effect since August 29, but in just the first four days police officers have laid a total of 291 charges including 283 Provincial Offence Act charges and bylaw offences and 9 Criminal Code charges. According to police, of the charges laid 187 were students and 65 were non-students.

Last Tuesday, September 2 police arrested a 17-year-old male from Etobicoke for fighting on Fleming Drive, which caused a large group to gather. The male was charged with resisting arrest and causing a disturbance.
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