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Last weekend, students from all classes marched up the hill to the Bellarmine Lawn for Fairfield’s 10th annual Presidential Ball.  The event started at 8 p.m. with doors closing at 10 p.m., and ended at midnight.

As part of the tradition, students and guests made their way through Bellarmine Hall to the patio where they were able to get their picture taken with Fairfield President Fr. Jeffery von Arx, S.J., before descending the stone staircase and voyaging on into the event known as “Prez Ball.”

FUSA President Alex Long ’14 said that the historically successful event “went smoothly compared to the last couple of years.”

Assistant Director of Public Safety John Ritchie attributes the success of the event to the staff and personnel who worked to make sure those who attended had a safe and enjoyable experience.

At Prez Ball there were seven medical transports from the event.  There were an additional seven medical transports from campus throughout that evening and into the early morning.  At the event, 21 people were triaged–determining priority of patient’s treatments–by medical staff.

According to Ritchie, extra staff allowed DPS to be better prepared for triaging students.  This reduced the need to send students to the hospital.  At the event, staff was able to make contact with about 100 people who appeared to need medical attention; most were deemed to not need medical attention.

Ritchie said, “Safety is always a concern at any event.”  Large-scale events are worrying; the consumption of alcohol and drugs by those attending causes concern, said Ritchie.

G-Force Security, a private security company from Fairfield was hired to provide additional staffing to keep an eye on the perimeter of the event site.  According to Ritchie, They predominantly work event venues and have a lot of experience with these types of events, specifically crowd management.  At Prez Ball, G-Force Security consisted of eleven personnel and one supervisor.

Ritchie said that the event was a mostly positive experience for students, considering the amount of people that attended the event, adding that “this sheds light on how we should prepare for the upcoming Fall Concert.”

According to von Arx, Prez Ball started out as his inauguration ball, and was originally in Alumni Hall for the first time.  “The kids were so enthusiastic about it that we decided to continue and so here we are, year ten,” said von Arx.  According to von Arx, his favorite part of the evening is “just saying ‘hi’ to kids…It’s great to see everybody dressed up.  It’s wonderful, and it’s great to see everybody enjoying themselves.”

When asked how hard it is to hold a smile for so long, von Arx laughed, saying “I get used to that one way or another.  I massage my face muscles to get them back into shape.  It’s a wonderful, wonderful occasion and I’m so happy to be here and so happy that we’re able to have this occasion for our students.”

According to FUSA, there were over 2,200 tickets sold for the event at $20 each.  FUSA President Alex Long ’14 emailed students the day before and offered advice on how to make Prez Ball a safe and fun event for all.

He advised students to avoid hard liquor, eat a big dinner and burn a lot of calories on the dance floor.  He urged students to stay classy and be in control at all times, specifically: “Don’t make it awkward when you are taking a picture with Fr. von Arx.”

Fairfield Dean of Students Karen Donoghue also emailed students, saying that “the Presidential Ball should be a fun, safe event.  It is my expectation that students will not put themselves in harm’s way by making terrible choices when it comes to alcohol consumption.  I want this event to continue to be a tradition at Fairfield University. Any policy violations will be met with a heightened response from my office.”

Long also informed the students that “excessive write-ups and problems associated with Prez Ball may jeopardize [FUSA’s] ability to sponsor this event in the future.”

There is a meeting next Monday for Fairfield faculty and staff to discuss and review the event.

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