One of Fairfield University Student Association’s largest annual fall events, The Presidential Ball, often referred to as Pres Ball by students, returned Friday night on the lawn of Bellarmine Hall after not being held during the 2020-2021 academic year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Taking into consideration the COVID-19 guidelines, two separate Presidential Ball events were held to maintain smaller groups on the lawn at one time. Classes of 2024 and 2025 had an earlier Pres Ball event from 7:00 p.m. until 9:00 p.m. and Classes of 2023 and 2023 had their Pres Ball later from 10:00 p.m. until midnight.
Across both events, there were a total of 2,376 tickets sold according to data contributed by FUSA. However, of those who bought tickets, only 2,165 swiped into the event.
First-years bought the most tickets with 670 bought and 611 swipe-ins. Sophomores bought the second most tickets (592) and had the second most swipe-ins (556) followed by Seniors who bought 572 tickets and had 522 swipe-ins. Juniors bought the least amount of tickets (542), and had a low attendance rate by comparison with only 476 swipe-ins.
FUSA told The Mirror that “this year’s Pres Ball was an absolute success” and that “students were thrilled to have such an integral part of the Fairfield University experience back.”
Students shared mixed feelings about the event.
First-Year Alli Riggi was excited about the event.
“Pres Ball was a really great night,” she said. “I met a lot of new people, had a lot of fun, and I am looking forward to going back next year!”
On the other hand, not all students were overjoyed with the event’s return.
Senior Ashley Lampros expressed disappointment in the event.
“Pres Ball was incredibly underwhelming for me,” she said. “I’m a senior and it was my first time attending, but I just don’t think it lived up to my expectations.”
FUSA stated that there were no medical issues at the event.
“We were pleased that no students visited the medical tent for alcohol-related incidents and there were no medical transports during either event,” FUSA said.
In past years though, this was not the case.
The Mirror reported in 2014 that there were seven transports from the night of the event, and 13 total transports in 2013. In 2017, it was reported that there were 10 alcohol-related transports across campus on the night of Pres Ball, which includes three that came from inside the event.
FUSA added that this year’s attendees “were enthusiastic, responsible, and respectful.”
Prior to the event, students were notified that masks would be required for all attendees who were unvaccinated.
There were many checkpoints in place to oversee the vaccination status of those in attendance at the event.
Unvaccinated students were tested leading up to the event, and students not in compliance with the testing protocol received an email from the Dean of Students.
“They had the ability to rectify this situation by obtaining a lab-based rapid (antigen) test and submitting the result to COVID Health by noon on Friday,” FUSA told the Mirror.
At the actual event, each student’s vaccination status was double-checked at the StagCard checkpoint. Any students who were non-compliant with testing requirements were denied entrance. Once students entered the tent that the event took place under, mask-wearing among unvaccinated attendees was monitored on the honor system.
The Dean of Students also sent an email out to all students on Friday, Sep. 24 that stated 10 percent of those in attendance at the events will be randomly selected for COVID testing the Tuesday after. The students selected received an email before Tuesday notifying them of the test.
FUSA said that the decision was made by the Office of the Dean of Students in collaboration with the Office of Student Engagement, and the Student Health Center and is one that they “100 percent support.”
Students can see all Covid-19 numbers will be updated on the University’s COVID-19 Dashboard weekly.
On Tuesday, Sep. 28, FUSA sent out a survey to the students who attended this year’s Pres Ball event, in order to get their feedback and gauge their satisfaction. They ask all those that receive the email to “please take the time to respond, so we can make Pres Ball 2022 just as fantastic.”