The recent riots at Fanshawe College on St. Patty’s Day left me a little – no greatly (!) -disturbed by the lack of reaction from the public – especially parents. Where are they? More later on this. As a student, and a Trent student at that, I thought about the pride and love I have for my role in Trent. Simply put, I would never trash the place or its surrounding abodes, Peterborough and Oshawa. They have provided me with a home away from home, a general support networks, and, sometimes, a place to express my individuality. As a supporter of the Occupy protests, and protests in general that seek to communicate ideas regarding political issues, I am struck with a sense of shame. For the most part, those who attend protests are students and young folk, so, you can see how this riot will be clumped in with meaningful protests in the past. Older generations, including Gen X, the Baby Boomers, and – spare my conscience, the War generation – are thinking “look at these little brats.” Yeah, look at them and while you are at it profile them using their social media. The youth of today (I am talking Gen Y) must find some purpose, goal, or collective motto to stand for in their lives. I grew up with parents who were young in the 60s and who saw a world far more threatening than this one (i.e. nuclear war, Vietnam war, racial and sexual division) and, yet, they and their peers stood pretty strong and eventually lead productive, meaningful lives without sacrificing their generation’s creed.
Which brings me to the question: where are the parents? Who are these students’ parents? What type of parent would condone their kids flipping over a car or assaulting police? Or, worse still, assaulting the average joe on the street? If you ask me, these students were left to allow things to get out of hand and treated the situation like a big college initiation party and because they saw violence as an option they used it against anyone in their way. Although I am happy that Fanshawe college has responded to some of these students, I still think the occurrence was symbolic and the symbolism was missed by most people. The riots symbolized the lack of purpose for young people today. Connect it with any recent event – the recession, tuition hikes, higher rates of divorce, or, even, bad music – and you will see that the riot magnifies an apathy amongst youth today. Not even an apathy like that which Gen X crowned their generation with, but an apathy that is, well, lazy and silly. Without meaning. Apathy and blind rage, what a paradox and a distinct contrast to the generations before us. Perhaps this apathy is connected to a loss of identity, trauma, and the loss of significance on the global stage. A post-9/11, post-2008 collapse apathy. An apathy that needs to change.