On Saturday, Oct. 23, the Inter-Residential Housing Association hosted its annual celebration of “New England Day” in the center of Fairfield’s campus, the quad. As a part of Fairfield University’s initiative to create a sense of community among the student body, New England Day aimed to bring all students from across campus together to enjoy one another’s company with games, food, and conversation. 

The event was constructed through the set-up of nine tables, one for each of the residential halls, each with their own unique autumnal themed game, and subsequent reward system: Jogues Hall hosted “Cornhole for Candy,” Regis organized “Pumpkin Painting,” McCormick had “DIY Caramel Apples,” Southside set up “Lawn Games,” Gonzaga set up a “Pumpkin Ring Toss,” Langguth had “Fall Wreath Decorating,” D-Town issued “Fall Arts and Crafts,” Loyola was “Guess How Much Candy in a Jar” and Campion had a “Potato Sack Race.” 

All nine tables were composed of the campus’ nine RHAs, or Residential Housing Associations, which serves as a representative board for each particular residence hall or area within the IRHA. While each RHA hosts events for their own particular areas, “New England Day” was one of their collective activities. 

During the event, on the north side of the quad, groups of friends walked along the stone paths from table to table, participating in what each RHA table had to offer. However, the event did not consist solely of those directing themself from game to game, but also of those who wandered for nothing but the joys of the moment: the crisp October air, relieving company, the trees that have turned. One could not tell which, only one could see that it was there. And throughout the day, with the event tables bordering the continuous flow of students and the weather becoming more beautiful, the number of those who participated only grew. 

While this event called upon all students across all classes to join together, IRHA reached out to first-year students in particular as part of the university’s effort to foster a community, particularly for that class. IRHA accomplished this effort through their use of first-year experience Inspire Credits. 

FYE provides first-year students with a structured approach, to help support the incoming class in, not only being a collection of strangers, but rather a collective body. 

Through FYE, first-year students are assigned to a small group, consisting of other first-year students, and they are led by one or two students in upper years, and one advisor. One of the main functions of FYE is to give first-year students the opportunity to attend events and join activities happening around campus while also earning the credits necessary to pass the class. These events are divided into the categories of Thrive, Inspire, and Connect. The designation is given to each event depending on the events’ function and outcomes. Each first-year student has to attend a certain number of those events, in each category, in order to pass and to properly fulfill the possibilities of a successful first year.

To make this event as fun as it is helpful for first-years, IRHA incorporated “fall passports” to each first-year that participated in New England day. In order to fully receive their Inspire Credit, each student must visit each RHA table, take part in their activity and receive a stamp from those in charge. Once all nine stamps have been placed on the student’s passport, they are then given the credit needed for FYE. 

Given that events are now finally able to be held safely on campus, New England Day had the subtext of being a revivifying return to the classic college experience at Fairfield. Surrounded by local fall weather, held in the mandala of campus, New England Day was a microcosm of the Fairfield experience that will hopefully serve as a precedent for the events to come, as it safely rebuilds the social environment on campus.

 

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