In the spring of 2021, the Fairfield University Student Association ratified a new constitution. Part of the new additions to the constitution includes the expansion of the FUSA court, from five justices to seven, and a change in the tenure of the justices, as they can now serve in office until they graduate without the need to be re-appointed.
Yet, though the court has been expanded, only three students currently sit on the court, namely Chief Justice Matthew Little ‘22 and Associate Justices Noah DeFeo ‘22 and Kasey Santos ‘23, leaving four seats open for FUSA to fill.
According to the new constitution, the FUSA Court, “determines the constitutionality of legislative and executive actions.”
Further, they hear all “cases regarding disputed disciplinary actions, probations and terminations, and have the authority to review cases regarding impeachment” according to the newly ratified constitution.
Most typically, they administer all FUSA elections and enforce the election code, as seen recently for the Class of 2025 Senatorial Elections that took place on Sept. 28, 2021.
Chief Justice Little stated that though the court is not yet complete, they were still able to adequately hold the senatorial elections and recruited ten first-year candidates, “the greatest number in recent history” according to Little.
Little said that he believes the number of associate justice applications will increase, “as student engagement increases nationally with the pandemic’s recovery.”
Former Associate Justice Dominique Trucchio ‘21 stated in a response to The Mirror that “…the expansion of the FUSA Court will greatly benefit the student body.”
She continues, “With more individuals on the court, there is an opportunity for a greater diversity of opinions, which allows for better representation.”
Former FUSA President Vincent Gadioma ‘22, who chaired the Constitutional Convention for the 2020-2021 academic year that led to the expanded court, voted in favor of the expansion. “This expansion is something I saw as necessary to coincide with the additional constitutional amendment to increase Justices’ appointed tenure.”
Gadioma adds that he continues to support that spring decision, “I still believe the convention made the right decision as it is an institutionalized way for the court to maintain continuity and obtain a diversity of opinions.”
The Fairfield University Student Association stated that the expansion of the court and the new tenure is partially the reason for the current lack of a full-court, “We must appoint an entire-seven-person Court from scratch which is more than our usual yearly requirement.”
They also stated that it’s part of tradition, “…to leave some seats open for the Fall semester so as to allow First-year students an opportunity to apply.”
When former President Gadioma was asked to elaborate on the ‘tradition’ that FUSA was referring to, he stated, “The comment made by the current administration must inform their intention on how they will engage with first-years.”
He continued that his administration was able to appoint and fill every seat on the FUSA Court, with no intention to leave seats open in the fall. But continued that the ‘tradition’, “…speaks to how each administration seeks to engage with first-years differently than their predecessors.”
FUSA did not respond to the question, “How do you hope to attract students to apply to the Associate Justice position?”
Instead, FUSA stated that applications for associate justice positions opened recently and they received “…numerous underclassmen applications” and are in the process of interviewing them for nominations to the Senate.
When The Mirror reached out for clarification on the exact amount of applications FUSA has received, current FUSA President Tyler Heffern ‘22 stated, “As the appointment process is still underway we cannot disclose the number of applications submitted.”
He continues, “Although numerous applications were received from underclassmen students, which was the basis of the initial question, we do not intend to appoint every single applicant.”
Former President Gadioma stated he didn’t think there were any major changes in interest in being part of the court, that during the pandemic, former Chief Justice Daniel Messier ’21 “did his best to maintain the integrity of the court’s responsibilities across an online format.”
Gadioma continues to state that, “The inevitable consequence of operating online is that you lose visibility, therefore I think as the court’s operations begin to operate back in-person we will observe a gradual return to the same, if not greater, level of interest than in previous years.”
FUSA did not comment on the question, “What happens if FUSA cannot fill the seats?” and instead stated that the court is “… able to function without all members appointed, as it did for this most recent Senatorial election, which was run very smoothly.”
They further stated, “…we would like to fill the remaining seats nonetheless.”
Trucchio stated that “We have an active student body, so I am sure that there will be students who are interested in joining the court!”
FUSA didn’t answer The Mirror’s question stating, “Are you going to reach a point where the Constitution will have to be amended to adequately conform to student interest?”
They instead ended their statement with, “We look forward to the FUSA Court expanding its efforts in campaign finance reform and improving turnout in elections all of which are priorities of the justices that have been appointed thus far.”
FUSA did not elaborate on what campaign finance reform or improving election turnout work the court was implementing.
Gadioma stated that he had “…full confidence the court will be able to execute their duties to the best of their ability and be able to fill their remaining seats” under Chief Justice Little, “From what I’ve seen from the first-year Senatorial and Class Presidential elections so far, this year is shaping up to be fun for their entire court!”
Assistant News Editor Madeline West is a 2023 Class Senator and thus did not read, edit or have any part of this article before publication.
Managing Editor Tobenna Ugwu was previously FUSA Vice President under President Gadioma, but he is no longer a member of FUSA and did not read, edit, or have any part of this article before publication.
Edit: In-Print, the word “re-elected” appears in the first paragraph, it’s been edited to correctly state “re-appointed” on the online edition.