Fairfield University’s club sailing team was temporarily paused from Sept. 16 to Sept. 24, leaving team members frustrated and confused.
According to the team’s co-captain, Lauren Gasek ‘22, leadership from Sail Black Rock, the Bridgeport-based sailing center from which the team sails, informed her that the University had suspended the team’s operations.
Gasek said that she was told that a decision was made in consultation with the University’s attorney that the club sailing team’s operations could be considered “high risk.” The University attorney is currently on maternity leave and could not be contacted by The Mirror for comment.
The pause of the sailing team left members confused, as they were uncertain whether they would be able to sail at all during the semester.
According to Gasek, “We were informed on Sept. 16 during our meeting with [Chelsea Wright, assistant director of competitive sports] and [Eli Olken-Dann, director of recreation], that we could be suspended anywhere between one and three months”.
Inspired by her roommate, who serves as a senator on the Fairfield University Student Association senate, Gasek decided to take action and voice her concerns at FUSA’s first General Senate Meeting.
There, she received a seemingly sympathetic audience, and the FUSA senate agreed to look into the matter on the team’s behalf.
FUSA Senate Speaker of the House Jack Stalzer ‘22 said “…it seems ridiculous that they have been singled out,” while Senator Vincent Rotondo ‘23 suggested they create a petition on change.org.
The suspension of operations, while brief, had a significant impact on the team’s plans for the semester. While the sailing team is considered a club sport, they compete in regattas against Division I teams.
According to Gasek, amid the uncertainty over the team’s plans for the semester, Wright cancelled all of the teams regattas for the semester, potentially harming the team’s relations with other sailing programs who were planning to compete against Fairfield University.
Gasek stated that the cancellation of regattas was done without consulting her or her contact at Sail Black Rock, Dave White.
Vice President for Student Life Karen Donoghue stated, “I think it’s important to highlight the facts if you are covering this story.”
She continued to say that the team was “not put on suspension. The team was placed on pause for seven days. During this pause, university administrators met with appropriate parties to discuss and verify safety perimeters. As with all of our club sports programs, the University updates necessary documents regularly.”
In response, Gasek said “I would say that although the team may have only been shut down for eight days (Sept. 16 to Sept. 24), it [our return] was a result of the efforts of Sail Black Rock and our team.”
She went on to say, “It was a bit tough to get things up and running. We are still working to re-sign ourselves up for regattas this semester.”
Stay up-to-date with the Sailing Team by following their Instagram @fairfieldusailing.