Teen Who Made Headlines By Suing Parents Makes Them Again on Cinco de Mayo — You’ll Never Guess Why

Printed from: https://newbostonpost.com/2017/05/08/teen-who-made-headlines-by-suing-parents-makes-them-again-on-cinco-de-mayo-youll-never-guess-why/

The New Jersey teen who famously sued her own parents in 2014 to make them pay for her private school living expenses is now an adult, and has apparently brought her penchant for making headlines to Massachusetts.

Rachel Canning, 21, a junior lacrosse player at Western New England University in Springfield, Massachusetts, fired off a photo from her Instagram account on Friday, May 5, the day known as Cinco de Mayo, depicting her team with a keg of beer, with the caption, “Dear Mr. Trump. glad you didn’t build that wall JUST YET. Happy Mexican St. Paddys day from our honorary Amigos to yours.”

Canning’s post whipped up a firestorm of aggrievement on social media and later on campus after another student posted it to her Facebook page, where it has been shared more than 270 times as of Monday afternoon.

“Problematic racist yt ppl @ my school,” wrote the student, who lists herself as a pharmaceutical business student.

Another student commented, “report this (expletive) as a bias incident!”

A glance at the rest of the thread suggests another male student may have taken a screenshot of Canning’s photo and comment and later posted it to his Facebook page:

Another team member posted a different photo from the same party and captioned it, “Build that wall #wnelax.”  

A recent graduate later posted both photos to his Twitter account, tagging the university, which prompted the school to comment:

According to the student handbook, “Western New England University defines bias as any stereotypical opinion or attitude toward a person(s) based upon actual or perceived membership in a group, including, but not limited to:  sex, race, color, creed, religion, ethnic or national origin, age, disability status, sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression, genetics, or veteran’s status.

“A bias-based incident is an event which has the intent or effect of demeaning or degrading an individual or group and is motivated in whole or in part by the perpetrator’s personal bias,” the policy adds. “Certain bias-based incidents may also be violations of state and/or federal discrimination laws.”

Brian J. Zelasko, the university’s vice president for marketing and external affairs, told the Daily Hampshire Gazette on Sunday that the school “has been actively involved in our institutional process for handling such matters.”

“The review process concerning the Instagram posts is underway, and we are addressing the matter with those involved,” Zelasko added. “As a multicultural campus, Western New England University cherishes its diversity and firmly believes that all members of the campus community should be treated with civility and respect at all times.

“The university is firmly committed to addressing all bias-based incidents, including behavior that creates an unwelcoming and hostile environment.”

Canning could not be reached for comment as the university’s student directory is private. A message requesting comment left with Canning’s lacrosse coach, Aimee Klepacki, was not returned by deadline.

The New York Daily News, which reported on Canning’s lawsuit and subsequent settlement, reached out to the student’s family.

“I have no idea what she did,” her mother, Elizabeth Canning, told the newspaper Saturday. “I am not on Instagram.”

As of Sunday, Canning’s Instagram account had been set to private.

Canning’s lawsuit against her parents made national headlines in 2014, after the teen moved out of her parents’ suburban New Jersey home in October 2013, just prior to her 18th birthday. Canning alleged her parents’ house rules, which included doing chores and adhering to a curfew, were too restrictive.

At one point during the process, State Superior Court Judge Peter Bogaard voiced his own skepticism regarding Canning’s claims.

“Are we going to open the gates for 12-year-olds to sue for an Xbox? For 13-year-olds to sue for an iPhone?” Bogaard asked at one point. “We should be mindful of a potentially slippery slope.”