The student enclave near Fanshawe College sounds like the premise for a bad reality show: What happens when you take 82 neighbouring houses and pack them entirely with students?
If that show were to be made, last Saturday’s riot on Fleming Drive would definitely be the exciting finale, before the show was pulled off the air for being too damaging.
It seems cancellation may be what’s in store for the neighbourhood, as Fanshawe President Howard Rundle is proposing breaking the student monopoly on the rental units around the now-famous Fleming Drive. This would entail making it “unattractive” for landlords to rent to students.
It’s only natural that Fanshawe would want to do something to prevent another incident like the St. Paddy’s Day riot, and it seems that diluting the student population of the area would be effective in doing so. It’s hard to imagine non-student residents would tolerate street parties and mattress burnings for too long before calling the police, so the chances of things getting out of hand would be severely lessened.
On the other hand, Fleming can’t be looking like an attractive place to live for non-students right now. A street full of drunken students is probably not the best environment for raising a family. It also remains to be seen exactly what benefits or punishments Fanshawe would use to influence landowners’ choice of tenants. This whole thing could end up being a very expensive endeavour for the school.
The proposal itself also raises a civil rights concern—it seems discriminatory to have a policy that would exclude people from renting a house just because they’re students. And while owners may choose to rent to whomever they want, it’s a fair bet that student groups will have a very serious problem with Fanshawe College influencing housing.
Overall, it may not be a good idea for Fanshawe to start meddling in London housing. The backlash it may provoke outweighs the potential benefits of breaking up the student area.
Parties happen in every place with a high student population, and the only difference between Broughdale Street and Fleming Drive is that there are no non-student residents to call the police before things get too crazy. The best way to deal with the enclave is vigilance. The police may not be able to face down several hundred drunks, but a large police presence can stop the initial mattress fires that lead to full-scale riots. The key is to plan ahead for events like St. Patrick’s Day and put a stop to things before they get out of hand.
Fanshawe College’s reputation may have taken a hit from the riot, but manipulating the housing market isn’t the way to repair it.