After four years of working toward a bachelor’s degree, Fairfield University celebrates graduating seniors with the annual Senior Week. For the current graduating class of 2023, several events leading up to their walk across the stage are planned and advertised. Outings include assisting Bryant Elementary School’s field day, a commencement fair, a gathering at the Seagrape Cafe for $2 Tuesday, a senior farewell block party, a senior picnic at Holiday Hill, a Family dance and a formal Commencement Ball.

On March 31, Fairfield’s Office of Student Engagement sent out an email to senior students noting each event, what it consists of and the pricing. Five days later, on April 5, another email arrived in the inboxes of all seniors reading: “Due to an overwhelming demand in Commencement Ball [tickets], we are currently sold out.”

The Commencement Ball is set to take place Wednesday, May 17 from 7 p.m. to 11 p.m. at Anthony’s Ocean View. Tickets were priced at $120 each, whereas guest tickets sold for $135. In the initial email, the event noted in small print that “this event has a capacity limit and may sell out.”

Danielle Parisi, Assistant Director of the Office of Student Engagement, explained “We set the capacity at 750 to leave some wiggle room for our security, Senior Week team and volunteers. We were including our guest number in that cap but since the demand for tickets from Fairfield seniors is far higher than for guests, we are working with the venue to include those seniors.” She added, “We were not anticipating such a high and fast demand!”

As a result, OSE opened a waitlist for senior tickets only, put guest ticket sales on pause and stated in the follow-up email sent out to the senior class that they will “be managing this waitlist as tickets become available.” 

Parisi shared separately that “We [OSE] have been working with Anthony’s Ocean View on a capacity plan to ensure we reach as many students as possible.”

“Our goal is to serve as many seniors as we can and we are excited that this is such a popular event,” Parisi continued.

Additionally, the follow-up email ended by sharing that OSE “will announce if and when guest tickets become available.” However, in the following days Parisi shared “Due to the overwhelming demand for tickets, we do not anticipate having tickets available for guests. We want to be sure Fairfield seniors get an opportunity to attend first!”

Parisi continued, “Some students may have also joined the waitlist proactively in case they weren’t able to receive their own ticket. So if they already have a ticket and are also on the waitlist, they will not be contacted.”

As of this week on April 17, however, OSE sent out an email titled “Commencement Ball Waitlist” to only the seniors who were on standby. The message reads: “A ticket has become available for purchase and we would like to give you the opportunity to claim it. We are going to have drop-in hours in the Office of Student Engagement this week at the following times: Tuesday (4/18) 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., Wednesday (4/19) 9 a.m. to 12 p.m., Thursday (4/20) 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and Friday (4/21) 12 p.m. to 4 p.m.” 

“If they do not come to purchase a ticket during those times by the end of the week, we can not guarantee a spot for them,” Parisi stated. 

In addition to the waitlist, Editor-in-Chief Emerita Madeline West ‘23 noted the strain on students with event pricing. “I know myself and others are feeling as though the end of the year events are a big chunk of money. It’s honestly hard to stress about paying for these events whilst trying to finish classes and find work.”

Included in the original email sent out by Parisi, however, a link was included for students looking for financial assistance

The form reads: “The Student Life Financial Assistance Program is an initiative within the Division of Student Affairs that assists students who may not have the financial means to attend or participate in University sponsored events, programs or opportunities, especially this year’s Senior Week events.”

The confidential application is specific to senior students looking to participate in 2023’s senior week events, and the decision is determined by the Office of Student Engagement. Students who are looking to have a lower ticket price are asked to fill out the questionnaire by Sunday, April 30 at 11:59 p.m. and will hear back from OSE by Monday, May 8 at 11:59 p.m. 

Questions consist of your living situation, which tickets you are looking to get covered, your resume and any additional information OSE should know. “Should applicants purchase tickets and then become informed that they have received financial assistance, they will be reimbursed,” the form notes.

Nevertheless, prior to the waitlist lift, student concerns spread like wildfire.

“My phone blows up every day with texts in the senior GroupMe of people asking if someone is selling tickets to the Commencement Ball,” Executive Editor Emerita Madison Gallo ‘23 shared.

Senior Jake Cartisano is one of those students. “I didn’t purchase [a ticket] right away because I didn’t know if everyone was going and didn’t expect them to sell out,” he stated. “I’m also unsure of what the process with the waitlist is, even though I am on it I haven’t heard anything else.”

“I was put on the waitlist for Commencement Ball,” West said. “From what I’m aware, this event used to allow guests while this year it doesn’t even seem like they can accommodate all seniors. I just hope those on the waitlist can end up going,” she continued, “I know class [sizes] have become bigger, so the school should try to work with the increasing numbers to ensure traditions can stay for seniors.”

About The Author

-- Senior I Executive Editor I English Creative Writing & Digital Journalism --

Brooke is a senior English Creative Writing and Digital Journalism major, with minors in Film, Television & Media and Editing & Publishing. She plans to pursue a career in screenwriting after graduation.

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