Last weekend, students kept the 13th annual Presidential Ball tradition alive by dancing the night away on Bellarmine Lawn.
Since 2003, Prez Ball has brought students and Fairfield’s president and event founder, Jeffrey P. von Arx, S.J together. This year, tickets officially sold out on Sept. 29, according to an email sent out by the Fairfield University Student Association.
Freshman Katie Mullen snagged one of the 2,300 tickets in anticipation of her first Prez Ball.
“When I first came here, I heard that it was a tradition, so I thought it would be a great way to spend time with friends,” Mullen said.
Over the past 13 years, the event has seen various themes such as Great Gatsby and Hollywood Walk of Fame, but according to Molly Strang ‘18, FUSA director of programming, tradition plays a role in event planning.
“It is a tradition, so there are certain things that we like to keep the same. It’s the small little things that are tradition,” Strang said.
These returning traditions such as the finger foods and pictures with Father von Arx were accompanied by a new theme this year: a ‘50s theme, picked by FUSA Programming Coordinators for Traditional Events. After posing with the president, students could spot event decorations, such as celebrity cutouts and a record backdrop.
For Ariana Fernandez ‘18, this year’s Prez Ball was her first. As a commuter, Fernandez experienced trouble coordinating a ride home in years past, but this year she made it work.
“I was really excited to be with my friends that I’ve known since freshman year, but then again, be with new freshmen,” Fernandez said.
Others, like Coleman Machuch ‘17, weren’t sold on this year’s Prez Ball.
“I’ve just been the last three years and I didn’t really want to go anymore,” Machuch said.
After receiving the email notification that tickets were officially sold out due to maximum capacity, some students looked to obtain tickets on social media. Additionally, FUSA offered an online waitlist for those searching for tickets and an opportunity to refund tickets for those no longer planning to attend.
According to Assistant Director of Student Programs, Colleen Wilson ‘11, of the 2,300 tickets sold, the freshmen class accounted for 35 percent of ticket sales, the sophomore class 21.43 percent, the junior class 14.22 percent and the senior class 18.10 percent. Student guests accounted for the remaining 11.25 percent.
Junior Jackie Hagis planned on going, but was unable to obtain a ticket.
“I felt sad,” Hagis said about not attending. “My roommate and I were looking forward to going, but I realized most of my friends didn’t go. We made the best of the night and had a blast.”
Sophomore Katelyn Leahy learned of the news before she was able to purchase a ticket.
“I was kind of disappointed; I was looking forward to having a really fun night of dancing with my friends and not being able to go made me feel like I was missing out,” Leahy said.
Strang suggested that the 13 years of tradition, in addition to it being Father von Arx’s final Prez Ball, caused the high demand in tickets. These two factors considered, Prez Ball 2016 peaked the interest of more students than the venue could support.
However, for those who managed to secure a ticket, it was their last opportunity to take the traditional Prez Ball photo with Father von Arx. At the end of this calendar year, Father von Arx will be leaving to pursue his new position as the Superior of the LaFarge House Jesuit Community in Cambridge, Mass.
In regards to behavior at the event, according to John Ritchie, Assistant Director of the Department of Public Safety, five students were transported, a lower amount than previous years. Additionally, Ritchie noted a high volume of students arriving and pushing in line prior to the doors closing at 9:30 p.m.
“We are extremely disappointed with the students who arrived late for the event and the pushing that went on at the ticket collection area,” Ritchie said.
Although no injuries were reported, Ritchie said more uniformed officers may be required to control the crowd in future years.