Fairfield University and First Selectman announce new initiatives to address ongoing beach concerns
Fairfield University and the First Selectman of the Town of Fairfield have announced a series of new initiatives aimed at addressing ongoing concerns about the behavior of some Fairfield University students at Fairfield Beach.
In a joint announcement on January 11, Fairfield University President Rev. Aloysius P. Kelley, S.J. and First Selectman John Metsopoulos said that significant progress has been made in curbing inappropriate student behavior at the beach, but problems remain and events like the September 30 luau party need to be curtailed.
Fr. Kelley and Metsopoulos said that Fairfield Beach attracts a wide variety of young people, including patrons to local establishments, high school students and students from other area colleges and universities, making the total eradication of illegal and inappropriate behavior difficult and not the sole responsibility of the University. Nonetheless, they acknowledged that the proportionately large portion of the Fairfield Beach population comprised of Fairfield University students argued for the establishment of new policies and procedures including:
- Fairfield University will increase fines for off-campus violations of its code of conduct.
- Fairfield University will deny students who have multiple violations of its code of conduct the opportunity to live at Fairfield Beach.
- The University will, upon written authorization of a student, release students' disciplinary histories to prospective landlords.
- The Town, with the support of the University, will seek landlord cooperation in prohibiting large gatherings at Lantern Point homes or conduct that would constitute a nuisance.
Fr. Kelley said that the changes in University sanctions for violations of its code of conduct would take effect immediately - with the beginning of the spring semester on January 17. Details of the new sanctions are as follows:
- Beginning on January 17, a student who is found responsible for violating the University's code of conduct while off campus within the Town of Fairfield will be subject to the following minimum sanctions: $200 fine and probation with the office of the Dean of Students for a first offense; $400 fine and University disciplinary probation for a second offense; suspension from the University for a third offense.
- Also beginning on January 17, students who in the past were found guilty of multiple offenses and received a "Loss of Campus Residency" sanction will now receive a sanction that excludes them from participating in the University lottery system for independent living arrangements. Independent living arrangements are defined as townhouses, village apartments and off-campus housing.
Fr. Kelley noted that all Fairfield University undergraduates have been notified of the changes in sanctions by letter to their homes from Vice President for Student Services William P. Schimpf during the semester break.
Fr. Kelley and the First Selectman said that events like last September's student-run luau must be curtailed and any behavior that is illegal or inappropriate will not be tolerated. They said, however, the progress that has been made as a result of substantial initiatives on the part of the University announced nearly two years ago has not been appropriately recognized.
Those initiatives included the construction of a $16 million apartment village residence hall on campus, removing some 200 students from living at the beach; the hiring of a coordinator for off-campus students; amending its code of conduct to emphasize that students are required to adhere to the University's Community Standards regardless of whether they are living on or off campus; committing tens of thousands of new dollars to on-campus student programming; moving the University's annual Alumni Homecoming to a date later in the fall with additional on-campus day and evening programs; and increasing its educational efforts to bring to University students a greater awareness of the dangers of alcohol misuse.
Those efforts contributed to a 25 percent reduction in the number of Fairfield University students arrested for off-campus violations during the fall 2000 semester, a 30 percent reduction in the number of Fairfield University students with off-campus addresses, and more than 300 students entering the University's judicial system for activities at Fairfield Beach since the Fall of 1999.
Fr. Kelley thanked the First Selectman for his leadership role in bringing University and Town officials together in the quest for reasonable and workable solutions to such difficult issues. "I believe that these steps, taken together with those initiatives already underway, underscore the University's commitment to working with the First Selectman and the Town of Fairfield in addressing areas of mutual concern," Fr. Kelley said. "I want to thank John and his team for their leadership and their cooperative spirit in moving this process forward."
Posted on January 23, 2001