Fairfield University Student Association senators held their second meeting of the semester on Wednesday, Sept. 27 with a full agenda of constitutional amendments ranging from recognizing Bellarmine and Austin Campus students as FUSA members to changes in their Diversity and Inclusion committee and the new Health and Wellness Committee. However, most of the almost two-hour discussion focused on the organization’s rebranding promoted by executive action.
Before the meeting officially started, Senate officials distributed printed copies of the agenda, Bill S60-001 and the organization’s constitution to senators and audience members in the lower level of the Barone Campus Center (LLBCC). Between the amendments highlighted, the official logo change, the recognition of Bellarmine campus students as general members of FUSA, a change in name to the Diversity and Inclusion board and the establishment of a Health and Wellness board captured most of the new business discussion.
While the bill was presented by Senators Steven Burns ‘24 and Ainsley Corriveau ‘25 at the meeting, no votes were taken as a result of the bill containing constitutional amendments, which are subject to open student scrutiny.
A public forum is scheduled to be held soon in the LLBCC, while the vote on the bill will occur after the university’s Fall Break.
“To give you some context, we are analyzing some amendments proposed after getting feedback from many, different members of different boards and branches of FUSA on any updates they might want on the Constitution,” said Senate Speaker Burns at the start of their meeting’s new business section.
The first amendment change formalizes an executive order signed over the summer by FUSA President Aliyah Seenauth ‘24. In the bill presented, it holds that FUSA is a “progressive organization that constantly advances, and is in need of modern representation in the form of a new logo.”
However, most senators disagreed with the statement and a 20-minute-long debate ensued over the identity of the 76-year-old organization that represents the university’s student body.
Senator Matthew Adamski ‘24 presented the first question of the debate: “Why is the logo being changed?”
“The University on their end, marketing-wise, has been undergoing many, many changes when it comes to logos for all different offices and departments on campus just to fit their guidelines of color, font, size,” said Seenauth when addressing the general meeting of senators.
She also mentioned that the general marketing changes also include “trying to swell away from the antlers symbol on its own.”
“So it’s always been something that’s been discussed [within FUSA]. It first came up for me at the end of last semester, especially when I was still Vice President, and we did kind of entertain the idea of making it something the student body would be more involved in deciding,” Seenauth conveyed. “But push came to shove, and Marketing wanted it done for the beginning of this academic year.”
The new logo, which will be in effect for at least a year due to Seenauth’s executive action, features the standard stag icon that the university uses on its shield and the organization’s name and establishment year. The inclusion of the stag, according to the FUSA president, was a result of her advocacy to retain some element of the student body’s identity as the marketing-led logo was only a wordmark logo containing the word “FUSA”.
Zach Quiñones, the program coordinator of the Office of Student Engagement, was recognized to speak by the Senators and asked them their thoughts on the new logo.
Senator Adamski highlighted the new logo as “nice” but he preferred the character of the old logo, its cleanliness and the presence of the antlers, a comment that made the audience members and some senators laugh.
“I second that,” said another senator in regard to Adamski’s antlers observation. Other senators also responded by saying “same.”
One of the reasons given to justify FUSA’s rebrand was around inclusion. As of the fall of 2022, U.S. News reported that Fairfield University had a 58-to-42 female-to-male ratio. However, while a majority of the campus population was identified as female, the school’s mascot is a male deer.
Sophomore Senator Emma Clifford went further into this reasoning that removing the antlers from the FUSA brand would contribute to the overall inclusivity feeling, as the removal of the antlers was done to incorporate the entire picture of the stag.
“A stag is a male deer and we are Stags, so what does removing the antlers do if we are Stags?” Conkling questioned as senators debated whether it was an inclusive move to remove the antlers for the entire icon of the male deer.
Junior Senator Giovanni Young, a former FUSA presidential candidate, also jumped in Conkling’s line of questioning.
“I think more along that point, it doesn’t solve the problem that they thought they were solving because we are trying to get rid of the symbol of the male deer with a male deer,” Young pointed out.
Quickly after Young’s comment, President Seenauth responded that she also expressed resistance to the new logo. “I get it. I was not easily willing to change our logo either. As of the end of last semester, I was like ‘no, it cannot happen,’ but we just finished our 75th year, so sometimes change isn’t all that bad,” she said.
“If Marketing’s notion was to make something more inclusive by getting rid of a symbol that’s specifically gendered to a male animal, they did that by putting the entire male animal, not just a piece of it,” Young said in response to a comment made by Quiñones regarding a “concern with the Stag.”
University Responds to Antlers Erasure Claims
In a written statement, Fairfield University Vice President of Marketing and Communication Jennifer Anderson ‘97, ’02 MBA clarified that the antlers have never been part of the university’s brand package and that the recent rise of the university at the national level motivated the recent updates in logos throughout the university.
“As we grow in stature and in increased national attention, it is essential that we elevate our brand and identity, and to ensure that it is consistently showcased across all mediums and channels,” Anderson said. “Commitment to consistently presented identity builds trust, and a strong, uniform, and universal application of our brand standards elevates the work that we all collectively do.”
She encouraged all students and community members to visit Fairfield.edu/brand to obtain more information about the current Fairfield University brand.
In relation to the antlers, she confirmed that around ten years ago, an outside creative agency developed a graphic treatment of antlers “in the context of a larger design effort specifically intended for our admissions viewbook.” She further explained that the antlers “were never an official logo of the University.”
While the admissions viewbooks do not showcase the antlers’ graphic art anymore, some of the informational panels at the Kelley Center still use the antlers’ design.
She concluded by stating that “the University’s Marketing and Communication division works with schools, divisions, departments and club organizations to help re-imagine their identity within the context of the University’s brand. Recent work has included our club sports programs, our campus dining and hospitality, Connect-Inspire-Thrive programming in Student Life, academic programs like Fairfield Start-up and Hackathon, Dolans’ new 30-under-30 program, The Research Symposium, Fairfield Bellarmine, WVOF and The Rearview … just to name a few.”
Correction: An earlier version of this article misstated Senator’s Emma Clifford last name. Her last name is Clifford, not Conkling.