Four Laurier students were injured as a result of violence throughout the week in the downtown Brantford area. On Friday October 23, a first-year student was assaulted outside of Lonnie’s restaurant. The student was involved in an altercation with a male non-student at approximately 4:30 in the morning. The 21-year-old student, as a result of the incident, was rushed to Brantford General and later transported to Victoria Hospital in London. One individual has been charged.
According to the students involved, the altercation started when the community members “passed a few words” about them being Laurier students.
The victim’s cousin also attends Laurier and was notified of the incident. The student was sent to Victoria Hospital where he was put into an induced coma before having two and half hours of reconstructive surgery on his face, as his nose and orbital bones were broken. He received 30 stitches in his forehead. He is said to be doing well after the surgery.
“He is doing better, that is all I know,” said the victim’s cousin.
According to the students out that morning, the 21-year-old student “fell to the ground and (they) kicked him in the face.” The other male student involved in the altercation was treated at Brantford General for a cut lip and headache.
“It should have stopped,” said Jennifer Murphy, a first-year student who was present during the altercation. “It didn’t have to go a lot further than it did.”
From the students involved, the passing of words led to the fight being taken outside. The groups of students had been drinking before entering Lonnie’s for some food.
The university held an Open Forum on October 29 to discuss the incident as well as to continue with the safety workshops and information that was made available to new students during orientation week.
The event was not as well attended as the university had hoped – most in attendance were media, police, and Laurier staff, as well as Mayor Mike Hancock.
“All our services have been available one-on-one for all the students,” said Kevin Klein, external relations coordinator.
David Prang, Director of Student Services told the group at the Forum that when the dons were told of the incident, they, along with Residence Life Coordinator, Cassie Morningstar took the students up to see the victim at Brantford General.
Prang stood by the Special Constables on campus, however he did point out that they are not available 24/7.
He stated that there are two ways to approach an event like this.
“One, aggressive, by using additional police, or two, preventative. Preventing the situation like this in the first place,” said Prang.
“Everyone has the right to drink alcohol, eat anywhere, but no one should have the right to escalate,” he said. “Violence is not a solution and shouldn’t be an option.”
“It comes down to personal responsibility,” Prang said.
Klein stated that as a Campus Safe Place, Lonnie’s only responsibility to the students is to call the Special Constable if a student reports that they are feeling unsafe.
“By no means are we going to take that away from them,” Klein said. “They did nothing wrong. Lonnie’s did inform the authorities.”
Klein reiterated that making good choices and “not putting yourself in these positions” and by using Foot Patrol and the Special Constable, students can help deter from these incidents occurring.
“Make the choice not to engage in these incidents,” Klein stated.
Klein focused on not inciting fear into the campus community, but by focusing on the positive things and lessons that the students can learn.
“It’s about making good choices, and being aware of those things.”
Klein stated that the university wants to have open dialogue with students, and if any students have concerns, to bring them forward: “it is the only way to address them.”
“Instead of building this culture of fear, we cannot address them if we don’t know about them,” Klein said.
Currently, there are six Brantford police patrolling the downtown and four Special Constable available on call.
“At this point, there is no ability to have the Special Constables around 24/7,” Klein said. “[But] there is always someone downtown.”
Brantford Police Chief Derek McElveny could not comment on much of the information.
“He is a young offender, but the matter is before the courts, so I am not at liberty to answer,” McElveny said.
Later in the week, on October 29, three more Laurier students were assaulted while walking home from a Halloween house party. Early in the morning, four men attacked three male students on Lorne Bridge. The victims, 18-22 years old, were treated and released from Brantford General with broken noses and cuts. Police arrested three of the men that same night, but a fourth fled on foot. Each male, age 22-24, has been charged with two counts of assault causing bodily harm and one count of assault.
Klein does not believe the two incidents are linked, stating that “there are no ties to (the incident outside Lonnie’s).”
“The three students were fairly well after the incident, and we will be catching up with them this week,” he said.