With Election Day approaching, Fairfield University students have taken their voices to Fizz, the anonymous app that debuted at Fairfield early this year, to encourage the campus community to participate in the municipal election that will occur on Tuesday, Nov. 7.
Those who partake in the election will elect candidates for 27 town offices, with the First Selectman and the Board of Education being two of the highly observed positions, as the town is in the midst of a controversial educational redistricting.
Students, however, appear to make the election a referendum on their college experience, as multiple Fizz users have encouraged other students to vote as a mechanism to fight a noise ordinance that was approved over the summer.
One student, who had a total of 1,700 FizzUps at the time of this article, claimed that “we need to protect the beach as a darty destination.” The term darty refers to day parties held on the beach. On Tuesday, at 2:45 p.m., a Fizz pop-up notification identified the post as trending at Fairfield.
Another student directed his message at first-year students, asking them to vote in the municipal election to save student-run traditions at the beach. The post gathered 1,400 FizzUps within 21 hours of being published.
“I know a lot of [you] guys are freshmen and don’t think this [a]ffects you. But if you want beach dartys like halloween, santacon or shamjam, def[initely] vote cause this is just an excuse for the town to stop [the] fun,” reads the student’s anonymous publication.
However, the last-minute campaign to get students to vote was not born out of a vacuum. On Sunday, Nov. 5 at 10:34 p.m. a Fizz publication containing a screenshot from a Fairfield Sailing GroupMe chat was published, alerting the community of the noise ordinance and pleading with students to register and vote for the Republican candidates on the ballot.
The student alleges that “the incumbent is trying to enforce a town-wide decibel restriction after 6 p.m.” The student also argues that this ordinance “will ruin [the Sea]grape and all parties” at Fairfield, a reason why he urges students of the group chat to “vote for the republican line-up (includes the grape owner) who are opposed to this proposal.”
A class of 2024 GroupMe conversation also conveyed a similar message, advising students to support the Republican candidates.
The noise ordinance that the student refers to was adopted by Fairfield’s Representative Town Meeting (RTM), the town’s legislative body whose power includes the passage and enactment of ordinances. During an August meeting, the board approved the ordinance with 27 votes in favor, nine against and one abstention. The organization is composed of 22 Democrats and 18 Republicans.
The ordinance, which was first announced in a town email update sent on June 27, was updated to match state law and give officers more tools to have consistent enforcement and public discussion. Public discussion of the ordinance occurred during the June and August RTM meetings.
An email sent by Fairfield’s First Selectwoman on Aug. 31 announced the passage of the measure and provided residents with external links to the RTM meetings and newspaper coverage by the Fairfield Citizen and the CT Examiner.
Fairfield’s Noise Ordinance details that no person shall emit noise exceeding 45 dBA in residential areas during nighttime hours, which the town stipulates to be from 10 p.m. to 7 a.m. on weekdays and starting at 11 p.m. on weekends.
The new amendments clarify that a determination of a violation is “solely within the enforcement agent’s discretion” and stipulates that citations “may be given” to offenders. First-time offenders “shall be given” a verbal warning, second-time offenders will receive a $100 citation notice and every offense after the second may be subject to a $250 citation notice.
While the new ordinance applies to the entire town of Fairfield, critics argued that the noise restrictions are targeting noise complaints in the beach area and at Sacred Heart University, as noted by a Patch article and the RTM discussions.
A representative from the Gerber-Vitale ticket conveyed that both candidates support the ordinance and highlighted that it received bipartisan support. Additionally, the spokesperson indicated that the approved language was necessary to comply with a state’s statute.
“What some Republican RTM members failed to understand and/or acknowledge was that the Town’s noise ordinance was in conflict with state statute—state statute being stricter. The Town is required to follow state statutes at a minimum. So much of the approved language brought the town code in compliance with state statute,” the spokesperson of the Democratic candidates said.
The Fairfield Mirror requested a response from Brenda Kupchick’s campaign, but they have not provided a comment in time for this publication.
Voting locations are scheduled to be open on Nov. 7 from 6 a.m. until 8 p.m. and any elector standing in line at the polls at 8 p.m. will be allowed to cast a vote. Those who have not registered to vote before Election Day can do so by going to the Town Hall at 611 Old Post Road to register. Fairfield University students who plan to vote can get an Uber voucher to cover the cost of transportation to their polling place.
For more information on the 2023 municipal election and to see the sample ballot, visit myvote.ct.gov.
Correction, 11/8/23: A source used in the original version of this story has requested to remain anonymous. The Mirror has acknowledged this change and has made the proper correction.