During my first year at Fairfield, there was such a thing as food diversity. The library had a little Starbucks tucked to the side. Where the Dunkin’ is now in the Barone Campus Center, there was Einstein’s Bagels. Now, it’s all Dunkin’, all across campus.
Though I’m proudly from upstate New York, where I’m nowhere near anything of the Starbucks variety, I’ll state that I’m sick of Dunkin’. But, I am lucky enough that I have a car at my disposal. I have the ability to travel off-campus and in just minutes secure a coffee from a handful of different Fairfield establishments. My friends, with no cars and no meal plan, are left with just Dunkin’ or the slightly pricey Stag.
Now, this realization got me thinking about this cycle Fairfield puts us under. It’s a known fact that only juniors and seniors (and second-semester sophomore nursing students) can have their car on campus. If you want your car on campus it’s $150 for the year. If you do not have a car, or cannot afford the price for a parking pass, the Stag bus is available.
Again, during my freshman year, the Stag Bus went in a loop around the local area, every hour on the hour. Then, in addition to the local town Stag Bus, there was a smaller bus that went to the Trumbull Mall every hour on the hour. This allowed students easier access to the local area and opportunities to buy last-minute goods. But, though the website hasn’t been updated, I’ve heard from students that this bus to the mall stopped running seemingly after COVID and now students can only utilize the Stag Bus into town.
Now, I don’t know if you’ve ever used the Stag Bus for more than just a fun trip into town your first year with friends. But, if you’re using it to just go to CVS or the grocery store it’s incredibly cumbersome. You take the bus, get to your destination in around 15 minutes, finish your shopping in 10 minutes and then are stuck waiting around for about an hour until the bus gets back around to you.
You could always take the Stag Bus to your destination and then Uber back, but this is often expensive and puts the burden on students to pay for transportation when it’s the University that should be providing the transportation as part of our student fee or any excessive money the Fairfield University Student Association isn’t using.
This is only going to become more of an issue in the future with Fairfield accepting more students. In addition, the University is reportedly building more dorms in place of where current students park. With limited parking spaces already, some students may opt to utilize the Stag Bus system more, and the entire system is already in a poor state.
The issue, as it always is with Fairfield, is its marketing. If Fairfield wants to tell its student tour guides to showcase the bus system on tours or publish Instagram posts about it, then they need to make it actually accessible to students. It’s unlikely that a student living in Barnyard Manor will walk all the way to the Stag Bus stop, take the Stag Bus to Stop in Shop for their week of groceries, take the bus back, and then walk back to their dorm. It puts low-income students at a disadvantage over their peers and showcases that Fairfield, Conn. is just simply an inaccessible public transportation town.