Students started lining up outside of the Oak Room starting nearly three hours before the start of annual Stuff a Stag event, which began at 9 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 7. “I got there at 6:15,” said Jessica Cuntrera ‘22. The event is known among students to be crowded and competitive, so lining up at the door hours early was what many students did in order to maximize their chances of getting to stuff the animal of their choice.
“The Stuff a Stag mobile Build a Bear Workshop is back! Come make a fuzzy friend to bring home with you for the holidays!” said the event’s page on Life@Fairfield. The event was organized by Fairfield At Night and the Fairfield University Student Association. “The first round of stuffing will take place at 9:00 p.m., and the second round will begin at 10:30 p.m. in the BCC Oak Room.”
“I’m not rolling up at 8:45 like some chump,” said Bridget Morrissey ‘22 while in line for the first round. Once the clock struck 9 p.m., the doors opened and the crowd surged. The rush towards the door resulted in crowding and pushing, with students pressed up against each other. Many at the back of the line left the event to try to return for the 10:30 round.
“It’s a stag or bust. If I get a snow man…it’ll be a sad day,” continued Morrissey. Once the doors opened and students began to push, Morrissey, suddenly towards the back of the line despite getting there an hour early due to other students pushing ahead of her, gave an update. “I’m a little overwhelmed but I want my stag.”
After 175 students were let in in order to stuff animals, the doors closed for the first round. Each student was given a ticket and the line continued across the Oak Room. The actual stuffing took place in the Dogwoods Room. However, though there were 175 animals waiting to be stuffed, not all of them were stags. Once the first choice ran out, students could choose to stuff a reindeer, polar bear, penguin or snowman.
Morrissey, after waiting in line for two and a half hours, stuffed a penguin.
“This was my first year running Stuff A Stag and my main focus was controlling the crowd,” wrote Danielle Parisi, program coordinator for the Office of Student Engagement. “This year we decided to have the line form inside of the Oak Room rather than outside of it in hopes to alleviate pushing and cutting of the line. We also focused on making sure we had the same amount of stuffed animals for both stuffing times so that it was fair for all students who attended.”
“I think this helped control the crowd also because they knew that as long as they got into the Oak Room with one of the 175 tickets, they were getting an animal,” continued Parisi. “The students working the event for Fairfield At Night did a great job of managing all of the moving parts whether it was swiping students in, handing out tickets, replenishing the stuffing, or monitoring the line. I believe that we plan to manage this event the same way in the future.”
Opinions among students were mixed. “The event at first was stressful because the line was long and I [hadn’t] been to the one last year so I had higher expectations,” said Kathryn Stewart ‘22, part of Morrissey’s group. “I thought the event itself or the idea was good but maybe they should have better planning.”
“If the situation with the lines did not happen, looking solely at the context of the event I like it a lot and would recommend getting a momento like a hand stuffed animal,” wrote Eleanor Sgaramella ‘20. “Once in the room the line was organized and calm, but externally it was pretty wild.”
Organizer Victoria Lagace ‘21, South Side manager at Fairfield at Night agreed. “I was very happy with the overall outcome of this year’s Stuff a Stag!” wrote Victoria via electronic message. “With the stress of finals looming upon us all, Stuff a Stag is a great holiday event to allow students to unwind and spend time with friends.” However, Victoria continued, “A large crowd developed outside rather early this year, and when it became time to begin to swipe people into the event, it quickly became chaotic and many students attempted to cut the line.”
On her experience, Sgaramella wrote, “I waited in line for about an hour and because people cut the line and sort of mobbed the door, ended up being one of the last to get in line to enter the room. Because of this basically all of the animal choices had run out, like the stags, and with it being my last year to attend the event as I’m a senior, I was disappointed by that.”
Sgaramella continued, “I understand the difficulties when hosting an event as such but I wish the line organization had been more concrete, especially for the people who got there early [who got] pushed back as it happened.” She also thought that the selection of animals could be limited to stags, which was why most students were there. “Maybe in the future, as the stags are the main publicized stuffed animals for the event, there could be more available so this kind of issue would be less likely to occur.”