After over thirty years as a co-ed institution, Fairfield University will soon have a woman at the head of the student body.
Karen Donoghue made history Tuesday when she became the organization’s first female president since the institution first admitted women in 1970. She just barely edged out fellow junior Vin Farisello by 11 votes-565-554.
“I feel thankful for the people that voted for me, and the people who were on my team,” Donoghue said after the results were announced on the ground floor of the Barone Campus Center.
The photo-finish left some doubt about the result.
“On any other day, it could have gone either way,” Farisello said.
Some see Donoghue’s victory as a sign of change in the university community.
“When it comes down to it, people recognize my sex as a symbol of change. But if someone voted for me, I really wish that people recognized that I was qualified for the job…I won’t let people down,” she said.
Current FUSA president Joe Piagentini ’02 also agreed with the implications of Karen’s victory.
“My administration was about change, and I think that we demonstrated this through this year’s election,” Piagentini said.
Though Fairfield’s newest president was visibly emotional and excited, her focus on the big job ahead didn’t seem to flinch.
“I have a lot of stuff I want to work on,” she said, rattling off such issues as freshman unhappy with the bus transportation on campus, and disagreement among students on a possible smoking ban in residence halls.
Both candidates did fierce campaigning during the past two weeks. While Farisello voiced a lot of specific issues and plans, Donoghue kept her strategy broader.
“We were both qualified for the position, but I think my experience tied in more than Vin’s did,” she said.
The other half of the Farisello ticket proved more successful as Casey Butterly ’03 defeated Michael Franco ’03 to become FUSA Vice President of Senate.
Butterly is looking at his new position as an opportunity to improve communication between the senate and the student body.
“That’s what I want to change most about next year, that students on campus don’t know much about senate. I think a really good idea would be to have senators go to residence assistant, townhouse and apartment managers’ meetings,” Butterly said.
There is little doubt that Butterly’s political ties to Farisello contributed to his success.
“Casey teaming up with Vin helped out. They both had a great campaign, did a great job,” Franco said.
“I’m real proud of Butterly,” said Farisello.
Nearly a hundred supporters from both camps gathered to hear the results that took five and a half hours to tally. The polls closed at 7:30pm and the results were announced at 1 a.m.
A large number of write-in ballots were the main reason for the agonizing wait for all parties. Of the 1178 votes cast, 421 were write-ins.
Those who wished to write a candidate in were not allowed to enter the voting booth. Instead they had to write out their entire ballot, halting the tally of votes for all positions.
There were three write-in candidates contesting the FUSA Vice-President of Programming spot, but none proved to be a match for the lone candidate on the ballot. Joni Saunders ’03, received more votes (483) than the rest of her opponents combined-Jordan Schibler ’03, Jeff Holland ’04 and Stephanie Savary ’04 .
Class officers were also elected on Tuesday.
Nicole Sparling will be the president of the class of 2003, while Eddie Seavers will be vice president with Eric Joyce as treasurer. They were all write-in candidates.
Marissa Lanteri was voted president of the class of 2004 with Lauren DeSteno as vice president and Erin Fredricks as treasurer, DeSteno and Fredricks being write-in candidates.
For the class of 2005, Kevin Neubauer was elected president, Christopher McGee was elected vice president, and Jillian Grant was elected treasurer.
The five-hour process of counting votes was intensified because of how close the results were, according to election commissioner Ed Hertwig ’02.
The write-in ballots were divided among three groups of three counters each. After votes were counted, each group checked the other group’s work. Once the commission saw how close the presidential race was, they decided to spend an addition half of an hour recounting just the presidential votes.
Farisello was given the option of requesting an additional recount. Though he was given 24 hours to make this decision, he told The Mirror that he was “leaning against” such an action.
Voter turnout increased slightly over last year, with 78 more voters coming out on Tuesday.