On Tuesday, Feb. 27, the Fairfield University Student Association (FUSA) announced Andrew Mejia ‘26 and running mate Bryan Santos ‘26 as the newly elected FUSA President and Vice President. In a shocking declaration after a one-sided presidential debate, Mejia and Santos made history as the first-ever write-in candidates to take FUSA office. Their victory, however, was not without pushback from the student body they look to represent.

The president-elect and vice president-elect were absent from the Feb. 22 FUSA Presidential debate because they had not declared candidacy on time, stirring a multitude of discussion when the pair won 356 of the 566 total votes.

“Ideally, we both wanted to declare candidacy and go through all the steps, but given the circumstances, we just went with what we had,” he explained.

Mejia attends Fairfield University as an on-campus student and Santos attends the institution as a commuter student. Through their respective experiences, the sophomores convey undeniable gratitude for the support they have received from peers and faculty, and credit that support as substantial motivation for their presidential campaign. 

“I [want to] give back,” stated Mejia, later adding that he hopes to offer others the same support and opportunities he has received. For him, running for FUSA President has been a consistent thought since his first year.

Similarly, Santos discussed his strong desire to lead others towards wellness. “I always wanted to be in a position where I’m able to give back to the community,” he said. “I can do more in this position than I can in Health & Wellness.” 

FUSA’s Health & Wellness Committee stands as Mejia and Santos’ first initiative within the association and a source of great pride for the duo. During their term, they plan to develop and expand its effect on Fairfield students. As an engineering major, health and wellness is specifically something Mejia looks forward to as a future profession.

Holding FUSA office has been a running joke for Mejia and Santos since their first year. And, the more they joked, the more people brought the idea up to them. The president-elect admitted that, to every joke, some truth exists.

Santos was Mejia’s first ask to be his vice president. “Bryan is someone who, I think, is an advocate,” he confessed. Their campaign and eventual victory was the result of an hours-long FaceTime call on one initially-regular night. Once the idea was pitched, the two sat for hours, fleshing out as detailed of a plan as possible.

“We [didn’t] want to run just to run,” assured Mejia. Santos further affirmed the relentless effort put into their presidential plan.

“It may seem sudden, but we definitely put a lot of reflection and thought into it.” 

Assigning great attention to student needs, a prominent area of focus for the newly-elected officials is commuter students. As a commuter student himself, Santos acknowledges the struggle those students face regarding campus involvement. “I can be a voice for them as well.”

Uplifting campus sustainability and interconnection were expressed as additional goals for Mejia and Santos. Through their term, they not only aim to branch off from their Health & Wellness Committee but to implement more dorm and late-night activities through Stag Safety: Campus Culture & Nightlife.

This campus project works to ensure an inclusion of safety and enjoyment for all students, accomplished through reviving old campus activities and implementing new ones. Mejia describes this plan as “a safer way for a student to enjoy themselves without having to go off campus.”

Regarding Health & Wellness, the president-elect highlighted current efforts to enforce a work order for more light sources outside of residence halls, particularly Meditz Hall and Faber Hall. According to Mejia, establishing strong campus lighting is essential to making sure students feel safe throughout their day-to-day.

With both Health & Wellness and late-night activities, a safe campus culture and nightlife can be promoted. Santos further confirmed the pair’s commitment to accountability for and transparency with the student body going into their time as FUSA’s leaders. 

Nonetheless, and because of this year’s unconventional election, students returned to the app Fizz to voice their concerns about, express opposition towards and stir argument over the results. Potential concerns of nepotism and favoritism from the current FUSA President were brought to attention, as was the suggestion of a re-election, and the phrase “not my president” stood prominently across numerous posts.

“Wouldn’t a re-election be the most fair?” one comment asked. “If Andrew truly believes he is what the campus wants, he would win again.” Another comment stated that if Mejia believed he could win, he would have declared his candidacy.

However, other comments were not as genuinely crafted or respectful, often shooting blame toward Mejia and current FUSA President Aliyah Seenauth. Users proposed a possibility of unfair tactics and “scamming” between the president-elect and his personal relations with Seenauth.

Additional comments were as simple as “Rigged” and “Gio is my president.” A photo of the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol was also included to suggest similar behaviors be taken towards FUSA. 

“Everybody can have their own opinion, that’s what Fizz is for,” Mejia retorted. “Once again, Fizz doesn’t speak for the whole student body … we’re not going to let [those comments] dissuade us.”

According to Mejia and Santos, the apparent comments on Fizz have not altered any plans for their term; good intentions will continue to pave the path for them.

“Actions speak louder than words,” Mejia said. 

When asked about the ethics of the election, which remain controversial, Santos declared their actions were conducted fairly, although they respect everybody’s opinions. Moreover, their dedication to honesty and accountability soar above all.

“We’re going to be able to show we are capable and dedicated leaders,” Santos attested. In accordance with his point, Mejia confirmed that everyone experiences “bumps in the road,” yet their mission continues to prioritize giving students the best experiences possible.

Making no appearance at the FUSA presidential debate did not stop Mejia or Santos from spreading awareness about their campaign. Working carefully to not violate the FUSA Election Code, the candidates utilized pure word of mouth to inform the public, knocking on dorm hall doors to connect with others and convey their visions.

Despite a perceived lack thereof, both the president-elect and vice president-elect confirmed a considerable intake of support throughout their candidacy, particularly through the circle of people they had around them. Returning that support to the university and creating unity in light of controversy stand at the forefront of their minds. 

As aforementioned, unity can be established through more late-night activities, in which the entire campus can come together as one and eradicate the creation of division or “sides” within the student body, exacerbated by comments on Fizz that favor one candidate over another. As a voice of the whole student body, Santos declared that there could be no sides to this issue.

Furthermore, both Santos and Mejia are looking to empower their community. “It may be a little corny,” Mejia stated, “but we’re all just one big family.” Enjoying university activities together stands as just one of his desired end goals.

While the newly declared winners are only sophomores and thus underclassmen, they hold no fear about this upcoming opportunity. 

“I admire [the upperclassmen] who have more experience…something we want to strive to,” Mejia expressed. Santos added that working collaboratively with upperclassmen is certainly a part of their plan. 

“I’m very excited to serve the student body,” he admitted. And, following his running mate’s comment on harnessing a family atmosphere, Santos added that he is a “big family guy as well.”

Filled with shock, excitement and “good feelings,” the sophomore elects cannot wait to get started on serving their student body. Mejia and Santos claim they “worked tirelessly” for this opportunity and, now that it is here, Santos relates a need to “kick it up and do the best we can.”

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