Although the main point of attending a university is to pursue a degree, school traditions often become the more important and memorable moments than sitting in a lecture hall. Fairfield University has a plethora of student traditions that make or break a Stag’s college experience, both school-sanctioned and student-run.

Schoolwide events like the annual Red Sea Madness concert, Presidential Ball or Halfway to the Beach party for sophomores will always hold a place in the hearts of the student body.

The annual Presidential Ball, or “Pres Ball,” is an essential part of the Fairfield experience for some students. Held in late September, Pres Ball is a semi-formal outdoor party for the student body featuring dancing, good music and lots of free food. Students of all years come together to spend time with their friends and dance the night away.

Senior Erica Gonsiewski makes it a priority to attend Pres Ball each year.

Pres Ball is one of my favorite events to attend because I love getting dressed up,” Gonsiewski said. “Usually I keep my outfits pretty casual in class and I’ve definitely rocked a sweatsuit or two on lazy days, so Pres Ball is my chance to actually show people I can look like a put together human being.”

For Gonsiewski, Pres Ball kicks off the academic year with a bang.

“Pres Ball just feels like a campus wide party to me. It doesn’t matter what your class year is or who is in your friend group because we all come together to have fun at the beginning of the school year,” she said.

While huge, school-run events like this are always extremely popular with the student body, many other formative Fairfield experiences are student-run.

Junior Christian Mannino’s Fairfield memories have mainly centered on things that the university has no part in.

“I feel as though non-sanctioned traditions become more formative to one’s college experience as you get older (at Fairfield, at least),” he said. “Something like going to The Grape every Tuesday helps in creating a lot of memories for students because it’s not a one and done event like Santacon or Sham Jam—I think it’s important for students to really make an effort in creating even more traditions that aid in forming an identity.”

Gonsiewski agreed, saying that student-run activities have had a huge impact on her, especially attending annual student-body-wide parties, like Santacon or Sham Jam, the St. Patrick’s Day party. She believes that these events made her grow closer to friends and helped her meet new people.

“Darties will always be my favorite events, especially Santacon and Sham Jam. I love checking out everyone’s funny Christmas sweaters or Irish pride. I loved waking up early, dressing up in some ridiculous costume and cramming into an Uber to make it to the Point in freezing weather,” Gonsiewski said. “Darties up at the townhouses made my junior year the most memorable year yet. I think darties definitely created an inviting and hysterical culture, specifically to the junior class and those living at the townhouses. Because of these traditions, I got to grow closer to my class.”

The biggest piece of advice that these two upperclassmen have for their fellow Stags is to try as many new things as possible and get involved in the Fairfield community.

“If I had any advice for incoming first-years, it’s that you should really try and get involved in clubs or anything to meet people. I made the mistake of not doing that as a first-year and later found out that it really is one of the biggest ways of meeting new people at Fairfield,” said Mannino.

Gonsiewski advises first-years to, “try everything. Go to bingo on a Friday night. Make a spontaneous trip into town to get Firehouse. Your experience at Fairfield is what you make of it. Take advantage of all the opportunities that come your way. Act without worrying about whether something is ‘cool’ or not. Get in touch with your independence and sense of adventure. All of my most memorable experiences have been because of my dedication to branch out. Try the sport you don’t know if you’ll like. Get coffee with the person who lives down the hall. And make sure you make it to the Tully before the dinner rush.”

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