Food fight in Leonard

University will use YouTube video to identify and bill students involved in unsanctioned event

About 200 to 250 students participated in an unsanctioned St. Patrick’s Day food fight in Leonard Hall cafeteria, causing an estimated $2,000 in damage.

At about 5:45 p.m. on Wednesday, students started throwing food, cutlery and plates, Housing and Hospitality Services Director Bruce Griffiths said.

“Everybody had to leave and the facility was closed for the rest of the evening,” he said, adding that the fight lasted only a few minutes. “I don’t think there were any physical damages and no reports of injuries.”

Griffiths said most of the damage was lost food and broken plates, adding that this year’s fight was more subdued than in previous years.

Griffiths said the University has tried different approaches to deal with the food fight, which has been happening on St. Patrick’s Day for at least four years.

“Last year, we put on a lot of initiatives about sustainability. This year, we had a fiddler in and a themed meal,” he said. “Why it doesn’t work, I honestly couldn’t tell you.”

Griffiths said the University has also tried telling students the event is banned, with mixed results.

“If I talked to someone three days ago, they would say it’s a bad idea and they just get caught up in the behaviour.”

Griffiths said his office found a YouTube video of the fight, which they will be reviewing with residence staff to identify individuals who participated in the fight in order to bill them.

“The first order of business is identifying,” he said. “We’ll decide from there how to proceed.”

German professor Jennifer Hosek said she and about six other people held a vigil outside Leonard on Wednesday evening to raise awareness about food issues.

Hosek said the group was hoping to make students think twice about participating in the fight.

“The aim of our initiative was to draw attention to issues of global food justice,” she said.

The group carried signs that read, “Think food. Think Haiti. Celebrate responsibly and Happy St. Patrick’s Day.” Hosek said she’s disappointed the fight occurred.

“It was disheartening that, despite being reminded of global inequities and the privilege that we in the global North live, some individuals felt that wilful destruction of a precious resource and disregard for the staff that work so hard for them was still an appropriate activity to engage in.”

Hosek said one option she hopes the University will consider is closing the cafeterias next St. Patrick’s Day.

“It would certainly be of detriment to the many, many students who do not engage in such activities, but maybe it would serve as a wake-up call to the entire community and encourage people who are bystanders to support more positive life practices,” she said. “We can have fun in ways that celebrate community rather than ways that destroy community.”

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