The candidates are prepping. The lights will shine. The cameras will flash. The Fairfield University Student Association Presidential Debates will take place on Feb. 21 at 5:00 p.m. in the John A. Barone Campus Center.  Until then, let’s get to know our FUSA presidential and vice presidential candidates.

“Why did you decide to run for president and vice president?  Was there one specific moment in your time at Fairfield, was it something you always wanted, or was it a culmination of many moments?”

Thomas Boutros ’20 and Danielle Tringali’ 20:

Boutros:  I joined FUSA the summer before my freshman year. It’s been a part of my DNA ever since I was a Fairfield student. I’ve always been impressed and astounded by our different presidents over the years. Zoë Ferranti [‘17], who was FUSA President our freshman year, was someone who went out of her way to get to know me and who made my Fairfield experience what it is today. I’m really looking forward to giving back what I’ve received from those previous presidents in our hopeful, potential, presidency.

Tringali: I began here as a student-athlete on the softball team. Time for student-athletes is super limited. Due to an injury, I decided to branch off from that this year. I joined COSO [Council of Student Organizations] at the beginning of this year. We run all the clubs on campus. We have hourly office hours every week. I’ve been plugged into FUSA hard-core this semester, and I just fell in love with it. I’ve always loved helping people. I just love people.

Brian Gozzo ‘20 and John (Jack) Callanan ’20:

Gozzo:  When I became involved in FUSA Senate this year, I realized there’s a lot of possibility to make change. We think FUSA does a lot of great things. We just want to improve on what they’ve done.

Callanan: I think, for me, coming from outside of FUSA, it will be valuable to see things with a fresh perspective. I am close with a lot of people who are not involved with FUSA, and so I know the questions that are on their minds.

Claire Monahan ‘20 and Noelle Guerrera ’21:

Monahan:  I never knew that I wanted to be FUSA president. I was incredibly reluctant. What pushed me to run for president is the idea that I can help people with the passion that I have for FUSA.

Guerrera: I started on FUSA as the Senator for Class of 2021, and now I am the current Speaker of Senate. I’ve been able to watch the senators grow. I believe so much in Claire’s ability to advocate for students, and I’m excited to see what she can do and see how much positive change we can bring to Fairfield University.

Jennie Toutoulis ‘20 and Meghan Jackson ’20:

Toutoulis: It felt like a natural choice. We’ve both been on FUSA since our freshman year- Meghan started on Senate, I started on the Programming Board. We’ve served on four of the six departments within FUSA.

Jackson: We’re really excited to potentially bring the knowledge we’ve gained to the position of president and vice president. We’ve worked on everything from Campus Ministry to Love your Melon, and we have a well-rounded understanding of Fairfield as a university and a community.

What made you two decide to run together?

Boutros and Tringali:

Boutros: When I first met Dani earlier this year, I was sitting in the FUSA office and she walked in and introduced herself. I thought to myself, I would like to get to know this person. I thought she was outgoing and approachable.That same quality of outgoingness that I saw in Dani, I see in Zoë. They want to get to know everyone. They want to make themselves available to hearing student concerns.

Tringali:  I’m from Florida, which is far away, and I remember Zoë from my orientation, the way she was so comforting and accessible. At orientation, we want people to feel confident and comfortable. It’s a tough adjustment coming to college. I decided to run for FUSA vice president because I just want to be a positive impact on other students and be there if they have concerns or questions. Whether students are coming from a thousand miles away or five minutes away, I want to be here for them.

Gozzo and Callanan:

Gozzo: Jack and I are both mechanical engineering majors, so we’ve had a lot of our classes together. We’ve really bonded over the years. The big connection point was when we went to Galway together last semester [Fall 2018]. That’s when I realized he’s someone that I want as my vice president. He’s motivated. He’s hardworking. He just knows how to get things done.

Callanan: I have seen Brian be super inclusive as a Residential Assistant by being able to reach out to the kids on his floor and form a community. He’s able to reach out to kids who maybe would not have been involved with the floor community in the residence hall and bring them to events. And that quality of bringing people together is something that I think is going to make him a great candidate for president.

Monahan and Guerrera:

Monahan: During her time as Speaker of the Senate, Noelle has implemented things like office hours for FUSA senators. She also instituted Speaker’s office hours so that senators could have the time to talk to Noelle. She is always there for the people who rely on her. Imagine if you could apply that level of commitment to the vice presidency.

Noelle is the head of the legislative branch of FUSA [the speaker of the senate] and I’m the head of the Judicial branch of FUSA [Chief Justice of the court.. We understand the process of FUSA in a very rule-oriented way. It’s a government structure. When you think of FUSA, you think of Presidential Ball, you think of the fun. Noelle and I both know how to utilize policy to get things done and advocate for students on the administrative level.

Toutoulis and Jackson:

Toutoulis: Even though Meghan and I were on different boards for FUSA, we found ourselves agreeing on more and more on matters that touched both of us. One thing we’re both really passionate about is clubs. So many life lessons, so many lifelong friends. Clubs shouldn’t be meeting until ten or eleven at night.

What makes you most excited about potentially becoming FUSA President and Vice-president?  

Boutros and Tringali:

Boutros:  Hearing different perspectives, hearing what students are battling everyday as a Fairfield student, has really motivated me. I used to be an RA, so I know what that team dynamic looks like. I’m excited to use our multiple perspectives to help other students.

Tringali: Definitely. We’re also excited to work with other departments to help people.

Gozzo and Callanan:

Callanan: Getting a chance to get to know all the students from different class years, hearing new perspectives. Going forward, we’re going to be working with so many different people. Being able to understand different perspectives is something that’s important.

Gozzo: I’m an RA on campus. I think bringing that background could bring a big involvement of Residential Life on campus. There’s an RA that represents nearly every person on campus. Through Residential Life, I have a connection to every student.

Monahan and Guerrera:

Guerrera: Getting to know the students of Fairfield University.  I love getting outside my comfort zone and connecting with new people. It reiterates why I want to be FUSA vice president- I want to help students on this campus.

Monahan. As FUSA president, you have the platform to establish so much change.

Toutoulis and Jackson:

Toutoulis: The endless possibilities of things that come up. We want to use our last year at Fairfield to make your next two, three, and for our incoming Stags, four years, as amazing as possible. We want to get projects done from start to finish. We want to get mental health clauses implemented in all syllabi, which is so important. I’ve had to skip classes because of anxiety attacks, and I’ve had professors who have been so supportive.

Jackson: I started this platform [the mental health clause in syllabi] last year [2018] in the Senate and it got passed.

Toutoulis: We’re really excited that the FUSA Senate is still working with that. There is going to be a meeting with the administration to make sure that all syllabi contain those mental health clauses. We value transparency. I think it’s so easy to look at people who have stellar internships and think, wow, they have it together and they’re so great, and at the end of the day, no one is how they look on the outside. You can come to our office, and we’ll have Instagram lives so you can ask us questions.

Jackson: It doesn’t have to be this big, elusive presidency and vice presidency. We want to be as accessible as possible.

Toutoulis: Friendly faces, open ears – all the way!

What do you think are the most important qualities for a FUSA president? Do you think you encompass these qualities? How so?

Boutros and Tringali:

Tringali:  Open minded. You need to genuinely listen to other people. You need to be accessible and be receptive to hear different points of view.

Boutros: Working as a team is important. I’m the associate director of programming on FUSA, and Olivia McEvoy ‘19 and I work very closely to lead our executive board.

Tringali: I’ve seen him work well with so many different people and understand so many different people’s perspectives. Being a student athlete, I’ve been on three different sports teams for half my life. I’ve been grateful to learn to work with other people. Right now, I work on a COSO team with nine other people. I have another event coordinator that I work with – we’re two bold personalities. You’ve got to learn to work with other people. I love and respect other people’s opinions, whether I agree or not. I value what other people think- it’s kind of my life motto.

Gozzo and Callanan:

Gozzo: Being approachable, open, able to talk to different groups of people. As the president or  vice president, Jack and I want to talk to every group and want to hear what every group has to say. We’ve talked with Danielle [Rice ’19] and Matt [Marshall ’19], and they told us that as President and Vice-President, you always have to prioritize FUSA.  We are both committed enough to always prioritize FUSA.

Monahan and Guerrera:

Monahan: I think the key to success as FUSA president is being dedicated. Committed. Driven. Noelle and I are two people you can always rely on. We’re loyal to the students. If it’s an issue to you, it’s an issue to me.

Guerrera: I also think accessibility and being approachable are important qualities for FUSA president and VP. We want to have a conversation with you. Claire is always there, and I’m always in the FUSA office or strolling around in the lower level campus center. I always think of FUSA as my first priority after being a student. It’s just something that I love. FUSA has given my life so much meaning.

Toutoulis and Jackson:

Toutoulis: We’re both passionate. We love big and work hard.

Jackson: We don’t just have big ideas. We follow through. I have personally seen Jennie follow through on every single idea she has even started. Between the two of us, we’ve driven a lot of change at Fairfield.

How has FUSA impacted your life? How have you positively impacted the lives of Fairfield University students through FUSA?

Boutros and Tringali:

Tringali: Everybody in FUSA wants people to succeed. The community that has been built within FUSA is so strong that we want people outside to feel connected to this community as well.

Boutros: I applied to be a member of the cabinet before I even arrived at Fairfield. I saw the advertisement on Instagram, and Molly Strang, then the director of programming, liked my initiative. I was given a spot on the Late Night programming board. They welcomed me immediately, and I moved in before the freshman class. People really wanted me to succeed. Right now, I’m part of the Co-Sponsorship Board on FUSA, and I think we’ve done a pretty good job at listening to people and hearing their ideas, and helping them develop their plans into reality. [Co-sponsorship: a portion of the money for an event is sponsored by FUSA, and the other part is sponsored by the person or club. FUSA also helps with marketing and program development.]

Gozzo and Callanan:

Gozzo: FUSA has been great to me. I just came from a meeting with IRHA [Inter- Residential Housing Association.] We’re trying to get more involved with them- with marketing, programming, any issues that arise. Through FUSA, I can make an impact.

Monahan and Guerrera:

Monahan: FUSA provides the students with a voice. We are able to ask people- are these the people you want to represent you? We are the voice that asks the undergraduate student body.

I found a team on FUSA. I found this community of people who are just as excited as I am to improved student lives. With FUSA, I can do something positive with the power that I have. I have ensured that students voices are heard within FUSA, I have worked on making people excited about FUSA Senate. I helped create the FUSA Fireside chat- the current FUSA president and Vice-President gave a talk about the presidential elections. I can be a helpful presence, I can assuage any fear or any anxieties.

Guerrera: I am a politics major in the classroom, and I love that FUSA allows me to apply what I learn in the classroom and learn how to advocate for students. There’s a sense of community in FUSA. It’s built up my confidence and my leadership abilities. It’s given me a platform to help be a voice for other students.

Toutoulis and Jackson:

Toutoulis: I’d be lying if I said I knew what I was getting into when I joined FUSA my freshman year. It seemed so massive and important. It’s given me the best people, the best opportunities, the best memories. No matter what happened in my life, I’ve always had a FUSA family to come back to and an event to plan. This fall, my best childhood friend died of cancer, and I came back and worked Red Sea Madness. For me, FUSA is everything. My contribution- I’ve been director of Marketing and Public Relations this past year. I’ve tried to maintain transparency by reworking our whole entire social media platform- Facebook, Instagram. I’ve been working on keeping things super accessible to students. Everything is a click away.

On a Friday or a Saturday night, not everyone is going up to the townhouses. I want those people to know, you have a place at Fairfield. FUSA provides that home and that group of people where you have somewhere to go on Saturday night. That’s how I feel about it.

Jackson: I think FUSA has not only grounded me but has also given me a sense of purpose. I’ve helped put on events that affect so many students, like the spring activities fair. When I walked around and saw the amount of people in that room, I was so happy. I know me, personally, if I did not get involved my first year at Fairfield, it would not have been the same experience.

Toutoulis: Now we’re paying it forward to the next generation. Looking at Jackson. FUSA is at the basis of our friendship. It’s at the foundation of how we met. We both love this school so, so much.

What do you hope to accomplish if you are elected as FUSA President and as Vice-President?  What are changes you wish to see? What do you hope to preserve and strengthen?

Boutros and Tringali:

Boutros: I understand FUSA isn’t really everyone’s favorite organization on campus, but FUSA is for the students, by the students. Whether you’re a student leader, RA (Residential Assistant) or NSL (New Student Leader), we really believe everyone should have a voice.

Tringali: We want to collaborate with other departments and go directly to the people who can help us make change happen. One thing we want to change is to have office hours for all the boards. We want to make everything transparent and accessible. We want people to know that we’re not just an office downstairs. We are there for them. We want to help them.

Boutros: At the end of the year, we’re all here for four- ish years, and making it the most for everyone is really central for us as candidates and as Stags.

Gozzo and Callanan:

Callanan: Right now, our athletic events do not have a super-high attendance rate. We would like to channel energy towards Fairfield Athletics. We would also like to create more events that people who are 21+ can enjoy. Students who are older- they’re going off campus. They’re not re-involving themselves with the campus. We want to keep them involved in order to build up school spirit.

Gozzo: We’d love to see Red Sea madness get a little more credit. People usually go for the concert. They’re not as excited for the actual pep rally that’s involved with it. We want to change the focus from the concert to the pep rally.

Callanan: We’re running in order to get the disparate groups of Fairfield University to support each other and their Fairfield community.

Monahan and Guerrera:

Monahan: Our platform is Stags for Stags. We’re working on solving issues of freedom of assembly and freedom of speech in residence halls. We’re also working on Tully [The Daniel & Grace Tully Dining Commons] improvement and on modernizing academic buildings- there’s no water bottle fillers in Donnarumma [Hall]. We want to improve the registration periods. We want to improve student input in the Fall Concert. We want to work on making Fairfield a more environmentally conscious campus.

Guerrera:  The mental health clauses on the syllabi are really important to us. I was on the Academic Affairs Committee where we wrote the properly worded mental health clauses for syllabi. Coming back sophomore year, I noticed some of these blurbs weren’t on some of my syllabi.

I went with current FUSA Vice President Matt Marshall to talk with the faculty committee on Student Life. They asked us, what can faculty do to help students?  Soon, Matt and I will be going to one of the faculty school wide meetings to present the mental health clauses.

We also want to get more options for international students in the Tully Dining Hall. I was an NSL last semester, and one student from the Pacific Rim kept telling me that he couldn’t adjust well to the food here. He just wanted to have his comfort food.

We spoke to Mr. [Jim] Fitzpatrick  [‘70, Vice President of Administration and Student Affairs] and the managers of Sodexo, and now the stir fry section includes noodles, more meats and different vegetables from a variety of countries. Now, every Wednesday outside the stir fry section, there’s a chef who comes in and makes a new dish so that these international students can have different food options.

Toutoulis and Jackson:

Toutoulis:  The completion of mental health clauses on syllabi is crucial to us. We want to make sure these clauses are as widespread as possible, making sure they are on every syllabus.

We also really want to develop a better relationship between students, residential life, and the Department of Public Safety. We’re all students, we’re all Stags, but there is a need for rules. There is a reason why Residential life and DPS do the things they do.  We would love to have a more open dialogue where students feel that they really know what the rules are.

I also think RA’s have a really hard job on campus, and I would love to work with RA’s so they know how appreciated they are and how much we value them.

It’s hard to be the person yelling at a person on Saturday night and sitting next to them on class on Monday. It’s something that I’ve experienced as a FUSA event programmer. It’s difficult.

Our relationship with athletics is so valuable to us. One thing Meghan and I want to do if we are elected is to bring the student body along with us on this planning journey. Red Sea Madness is such a massive event, whether you attend or you plan to go next year, and we can send updates over the summer. School spirit is something a lot of people want to see, but it has to come from the school.

Summarize your presidential goals in one sentence.

Boutros and Tringali: Students Supporting Students.

Gozzo and Callanan: Change Fairfield can believe in.

Monahan and Guerrera: Stags for Stags.

Toutoulis and Jackson: Friendly faces, open ears!

You can vote for your favorite candidates on OrgSync until Feb. 26.

Disclosure: Claire Monahan is the News Editor for The Mirror.


Thomas Boutros and Danielle Tringali


Jack Callanan and Brian Gozzo


Claire Monahan and Noelle Guerrera


Meghan Jackson and Jennie Toutoulis


About The Author

Contributing Writer

Mimi Loughlin is a recent graduate of Fairfield University, where she majored in English/ Digital Journalism.

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