Fairfield U mourns Sandy Hook shooting massacre victims

The Egan Chapel. Nicholas DiFazio/The Mirror

Additional information added at 10:25 a.m. on Dec. 15:

  • Connecticut Police spokesperson Lt. Paul Vance said in a morning conference Saturday that Lanza had forced his way into the school.
  • All victims have been identified but the police are withholding the release of the names. Vance said to “please respect their privacy.”

On Dec. 14, the Fairfield University community gathered in the Egan Chapel to remember the victims killed in a Newtown elementary school shooting massacre, which occurred early Friday.

According to officials, 26 people were shot and killed by Adam Lanza, 20, at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., after he had killed his mother, Nancy Lanza, in their Newtown home.

Lanza had entered the school around 9:30 a.m., according to The New York Times, and started shooting. Responders were alerted at approximately 9:45 a.m.

Twenty children, reportedly ages 5 to 10, were among the victims and two of the adults killed included the school’s principal, Dawn Hochsprung, and the school psychologist, Mary Sherlach, 56. In addition, Lanza’s body was found inside the school. CNN reported that officials are saying that he died of a self-inflicted gunshot.

Hours later, the scene remained secured by police, as they made sure the school was safe. Police also tried to ensure all students were accounted for. Some parents waited outside in fear, anxious for their children’s safety.

Two pistols – a Sig Sauer 9mm and a Glock 9mm – were discovered in the school, while a Bushmaster .223 assault rifle was found in Lanza’s car in the parking lot.

In earlier reports, news outlets like CNN and NBC, said that the shooter was Ryan Lanza, not Adam Lanza. Ryan Lanza is Adam’s older brother. The Federal Bureau Agency had taken Ryan Lanza in for questioning but he is not thought to be involved with the massacre.

Connecticut governor Dannel Malloy said in a conference, “Evil visited this community today.” President Barack Obama also made his remarks and said: “I know there’s not a parent in America who doesn’t feel the same overwhelming grief that I do.”

“They had their entire lives ahead of them – birthdays, graduations, weddings, kids of their own,” Obama said, referring to the young victims. “Among the fallen were also teachers, men and women who devoted their lives to helping children fulfill their dreams.”

By 10 a.m. news of the tragedy had reached many on social media. Students responded within hours with a table in the Barone Campus Center where passerby could write and post prayers for those afflicted by this tragedy.

President Jeffrey P. von Arx sent an email to the Fairfield University community in the afternoon, saying: “The entire Fairfield University community shares the enormous grief that is being felt by those affected by the tragedy that took place this morning in Newtown. We have students, faculty, staff and alumni who live in the area and our thoughts and prayers go out to them and the entire community impacted by this devastating event.”

He said the University has worked closely with the school in the past, “placing graduate students for clinical field experiences there.”

The campus had a moment of silence at 4 p.m. The bells at the Egan Chapel of St. Ignatius Loyola also tolled to mark the moment, and later a vigil was held in the Chapel at 6 p.m.

Fairfield graduate Ralph Belvedere ’12 played introductory music as students filed in to write in the book of condolences, which will be sent to Sandy Hook. Father George Collins made the opening and closing remarks.

Lit candles in the Egan Chapel. Nicholas DiFazio/The Mirror

He asked that students pray for the victims who experienced a “sudden and violent passing.” Collins said in his sermon that God could “heal even as something as heinous as the massacre at Sandy Hook.”

Collins asked that students light candles to provide a “light of love, light amidst the darkness that so many of us feel today.”

Others, including James Fitzpatrick, assistant vice president of the University, went to the podium to share prayers of peace from different faiths.

Collins ended the vigil, inviting people to stay for as long as they’d like. He said: “Perhaps this is a good night to remind everyone to call someone – call a friend, a loved one, and let them know how much you love them.”

As of Friday evening, police do not know the motive behind Lanza’s shooting. However, reports are coming in, saying that Lanza had suffered from a personality disorder.

The Sandy Hook shooting is the second deadliest school shooting in American history, ranked after the 2007 massacre at Virginia Polytechnic Institute, which claimed 32 lives.

Before this incident, Newtown, Conn., approximately 35 minutes away from the University campus, was considered a quiet village in Fairfield County, with a population of about 27,000 people. Sandy Hook Elementary School had an enrollment of 626 students in kindergarten through the 4th grade.

Other sources for reference:

“Breaking Dawn” is a satisfying but an unforgettable conclusion

In the final movie of the popular romance-fantasy Twilight franchise, “Breaking Dawn: Part 2,” viewers see that young lovestruck teenager Bella Cullen (Kristen Stewart) is forever changed. After giving birth to a half-vampire, half-human baby while still in human form, Edward Cullen (Robert Pattinson) had to change her when he realized he’d lose her otherwise.

This Bella is beautiful, strong and fiercely protective of not only the Cullens, but also her new family. It seems that Stewart, whose acting is commonly compared to that of a stuttering robot – and this refers to viewers’ frustration with her inability to exhibit a wide range of emotions – has graduated to a functioning human. Congratulations.

Bella’s child, Renesmee, or Nessie, is introduced to Twilight fans, played by newcomer Mackenzie Fay, who does bear a great resemblance to her parents, Mr. and Mrs. Cullen. Bella soon finds out that Jacob Black (Taylor Lautner) has imprinted on Renesmee, meaning he has chosen her as a life mate. Suffice it to say, this immediately breaks apart the love triangle that many Twilight fans have obsessed over for the years.

Renesmee, it turns out, has the gift of transferring her thoughts and memories to other people through touch. Also, because of her unique DNA, she ages more quickly than the normal child.

Stewart and Fay have a surprisingly believable chemistry, and Pattinson plays the part of a protective and devoted father well.

One day, a vampire from a nearby clan spots Renesmee playing with Taylor and Bella, and she mistakes the child for a dangerous Immortal Child. The witness then rushes to Italy to inform the Volturi, the powerful vampire government run by the oldest vampires to exist, of this “crime.”

Centuries ago, it became illegal to change children into vampires after one child had gone on a killing rampant, incapable of controlling its new thirst. The Volturi stepped in to get rid of this vampire-child and its “parent,” or the one who turned it.

When the Cullens realize that the Volturi will stop at nothing to put an end to this perceived crime, they start planning. Preferring to avoid war, Carlisle (Peter Facinelli), the head of the Cullen clan, decides they must recruit other vampires from the Denali, Irish and nomadic clans as witnesses to attest to Nessie’s existence as a hybrid, not as an Immortal Child.

The movie finishes with an epic battle between the Volturi and vampires and their werewolf allies. Thanks, Jacob.

There’s one thing in this movie that needs praise: The choreography and cinematography for the battle scenes were masterfully done and fast-paced. Who knows? Maybe the boyfriends and husbands who were dragged to the movie even liked these final scenes.

With the gathering of vampires from across the globe, a lot of minor characters show up in this film, and it’s actually sad that they got little screen time. A witty and seductive vampire played by Lee Pace might have been an American Patriot back in the day, and he is actually funny, delivering his humorous lines without causing the audience to flinch. He woos Kate (Casey LaBow), a member of the Denali clan, and their love connection is established in just a few scenes. Not to say anything against Bella and Edward’s connection, which started when she saw him eyeing her angrily in biology class…

Some characters shine through among the mediocre acting that took up most of the movie. Dakota Fanning was brilliantly deviant as the sadistic vampire Jane, and actor Michael Sheen, who played head vamp Aro, was sufficiently creepy and overwhelmingly gleeful at the possibility of inflicting punishment on the Cullens.

It’s a disappointment that the special effects of “Twilight” haven’t changed since that fateful day when Pattinson scaled up a tree with Stewart (read: spider monkey) on his back. Baby Renesmee was composed through computer-generated imagery, but unlike the success that CGI had with the werewolves in previous films, little Renesmee ended up looking cute but ultimately unrealistically composed.

The “Twilight” book and movie franchise does not have the same sentimental value as, say, “Harry Potter,” which people of all ages grew up with. So the ending of “Breaking Dawn: Part 2″ was expected, but not seen as monumental.

Disenchanted, but not giving up

Want to be as happy as this kid? Join The Mirror. That’s Luigi DiMeglio, by the way; he’s the chief copy editor. See? Copy editing can be fun. Credit: Loan Le/The Mirror

I’ve always been ambitious, particularly with journalism.

When I arrived at Fairfield University, I knew I wanted to major in journalism. I joined The Mirror, the student newspaper, right off the bat, and eagerly approached the editors with my ideas and comments. The entertainment editor seemed to notice my willingness to take part in the newspaper and he took me under his wing. I learned all about layout and news design from him, and then picked up more skills from my journalism courses. I rose from a contributing writer to assistant entertainment editor, and then, as a sophomore, I became the director of the entertainment section. Using the skills that I picked up freshman year, I tried my best to establish a standard for the entertainment section. I attempted eye-catching designs and longer feature pieces that tested the writer’s skills.

Examining past issues of The Mirror, I consider our recent issues to be so much more comprehensive and aesthetically pleasing than the previous years. We’ve been getting praises from administration, students and faculties, and they are saying the same thing. We’re doing a great job so far. I can accurately say that the editors at The Mirror are incredibly humbled by and proud of their work. Even though we complain about our miserable lives in the office on Tuesday nights/Wednesday mornings, we love working at the newspaper. Honestly, why else would we subject ourselves to torture every week. We can’t say it’s because of the pay, because, right now, we have no pay. That’s right. We have no external motivation to keep doing this, besides the fact that we love this. We love the environment. We love putting together a paper within 24 hours.

Now, that I’ve been executive editor/vice president of The Mirror for almost a year, I’ve noticed how much my attitude toward everything has changed. Instead of being preoccupied by my own success, I now worry about the legacy of The Mirror. What’s going to happen after our staff is gone? Honestly, I want to view newcomers to The Mirror as potential Mirror editors, and yet, right now, I don’t have much faith. I’m being honest. Maybe a bit harsh, but I’m not trying to distort reality. The journalism bug is not biting the writers.

At some point in the beginning of the semester, I wanted to just give up on journalism. Martin (the editor-in-chief) and I announced a news writing workshop for beginners and for people who just want to refresh their writing skills. I eagerly trekked from Dolan Hall to The Mirror office in the rain. I couldn’t wait to see who’d show up.

No one came.

This was utterly disappointing. I couldn’t believe that students could be so disinterested in journalism. I thought, “What’s the point?”

But I’m definitely not the type of person to give up. My mom and dad would seriously kick my ass because they didn’t raise a pessimistic daughter. They’ve raised a warrior.

So, I constantly ask myself: Why?

My awesome colleagues also contributed to reasons why people don’t often choose the newspaper as their first priority at Fairfield University.


  • Being a part of The Mirror is just not worth it.

Talk about a stab in the heart. It’s not worth it to gain real-world experience in the field of journalism? It’s not worth it to hone your writing so that you can communicate effectively? It’s not worth it to learn design and editing skills from experienced editors? Oh yeah, it’s definitely not worth it.

C’mon. Picture this: On your résumé, you can put that you’ve written over 60 articles for an award-winning college newspaper throughout your college career. You can say that you’ve designed this and that. You can say that you were able to balance working in a newsroom and typical college workloads. You can say, to potential employers, that you’ve put together a newspaper from scratch.

  • There’s no incentive in writing for The Mirror.

See the first answer. But there are plenty of incentives. You can get paid, for example, if you’re consistent with your work and apply to be a staff writer or an editor. You get a lot of experience. You get to meet people who are passionate about journalism. You are more than likely to get extra credit in journalism courses. You can impress your peers, professors and family. The list goes on and on. Search for what you believe to be the right incentive and believe that it’s enough to get you involved with this newspaper.

  • I’m just not good enough.

Bullshit. You have something to give us. We know you do, and we want you to give us everything that you’ve got. Do you have an opinion that you just want to get out there? Write for the opinions section. Think you know politics? Impress us with your expertise. Do you have the uncanny ability to spot errors? Copy edit the absolute shit out of our shit. We need your help.

  • It requires too much work.

Don’t even start with me. That’s a cop-out, and it’s a cop-out that we absolutely abhor. I don’t know, but maybe students forget that the editors at The Mirror are students, too, and have their own share of vigorous workloads. And yet, they still manage to come out here and crank out an issue each week. I can honestly say that managing The Mirror and school work is doable. You just have to look hard at your schedules. Instead of, say, taking a two-hour nap when you could be writing an article, take a 15-minute nap, and then work on Mirror business. Work out a schedule with The Mirror editors. I think we’re pretty flexible. Co-write an article and share your load with someone you trust. Please, just don’t tell us that you have too much work, because it’s an insult to yourself and an insult to The Mirror editors as students.

  • The Mirror is too cliquey.

Okay. If someone said this to me two years ago, I’d laugh. As a freshman, I never truly connected with the editors and other writers. I was too scared. The editors seemed to have their own inside jokes and conversations, and I always felt left out. Now that I am a part of the Mirror ‘culture,’ I can say that The Mirror is a bit of a clique. But not in the “Mean Girls” type of way, because we’re all so very different. What I mean to say is that we are not totally inclusive. We are close in the sense that we’re stuck in the office together from Tuesday afternoon to (often times) Wednesday mornings. We go through the same struggles and have the same complaints. How can we not be a close-knit group after all of this?

If you’re willing to stick with us on Tuesday and Wednesday nights, we consider you an official Mirrorite (the term is still being considered). If you write for us consistently and drop by to say ‘hi’ once in a while, you’re a Mirrorite.

  • Not a lot of people seem to do it.

This is true. In the beginning of the year, we had about 60 people crowded into our small Mirror office. There were people standing outside of the office, listening in. Sadly, however, the number has dwindled to the point that our Wednesday meetings consist only of the editors. We’re trying our best to keep students’ interest. I mean, we’re not scary. Are we? Sure, the editor-in-chief has a mohawk and a wild beard, but he’s chill…

To end this:

I’m still here, at the newspaper. The editors are trudging along. We get by, because we know that despite the lack of contributors, that doesn’t mean we can’t get an issue out. But I know that we can’t last this long. We need students. Like I said, I am not a pessimist, so I am hoping that in the future The Mirror will get the attention that it deserves and people will throw themselves into the awesome world of journalism. We are not giving up.

“Arrow” nearly misses the mark

Five years ago, billionaire playboy Oliver Queen (Stephen Amell), while in a life raft after his yacht capsized, witnesses the suicide of his father. To him, this means the sudden loss of his kind-hearted, patient father. To Starling City, it means the loss of a tycoon who owned and controlled much of the city. This sets off the whole plot of the new The CW show “Arrow.”

Before killing himself, Robert Queen tells his son to right his wrongs and restore Starling City to its former glory. In this one statement, his father admits his failure as a businessman and also encourages his son to become a better person than he was.

After being saved by remote fishermen, Oliver returns to find the city in shambles, rampant with lowly vermin and corrupt yuppies. Keeping his father’s words in mind, Oliver takes it upon himself to dispose of the poison in Starling City by becoming Arrow, the green-hooded vigilante who takes down the corrupt on “The List,” using the skills he acquired after years of being marooned on an island.

In doing this, Oliver must also fool his friends and family by balancing his secret identity with his identity as the prodigal son returned.

In the most recent episode on Nov. 8, “Damaged,” Detective Quentin Lance (Paul Blackthorne) believes he has found Arrow when he spots Oliver on tape at the scene of a recent murder. Oliver knows the truth, but of course, the public has little reason to believe that he could be Arrow. For one, they think he is still the same lawless playboy from five years ago. They also believe that Lance, whose daughter had died when Oliver’s yacht capsized, is just out for blood.

Oliver is surprisingly calm at these accusations, although in this show, the actor Amell is only capable of exhibiting the stiff calmness of a monk. His arrest, the viewers learn, is all part of Oliver’s plan.

Defended by morally straight lawyer Laurel (Katie Cassidy), Oliver’s ex-girlfriend and the other daughter of Detective Lance, Oliver is free on house arrest. Detective Lance believes he’s gotten Oliver in a corner, but then, later, when the handiwork of Arrow occurs at the scene of a failed arms deal while the suspect is seen at home, Lance can’t do anything but let him go.

Oliver had actually enlisted the help of his former Marine bodyguard/confidant to distract the police. By the end of the episode, Oliver is back to playing the role of Starling City’s vigilante.

The show has a lot plot holes that desperately need some explanation. For one, when Oliver “returns from the dead,” he sets up a secret lair for himself in one of his father’s old, abandoned companies, because what superhero shouldn’t have his own place to chillax in? A question that needs to be answered is: How does he get the money to buy all of this, especially since he doesn’t work to earn income himself? The money most likely comes from the family account, so how does Oliver hide these funds from his mother’s knowledge?

Also, through flashbacks, viewers learn that Oliver was a fun-loving guy back in the day. Yet, when returning to civilization, he takes on the role of a highly intelligent vigilante/assassin, capable of speaking languages like Russian, even though he was marooned on a Chinese island? Does being isolated on an island for five years cause one to grow a brain? Apparently so for Oliver.

The originality of the plot is also debated. Starling City can be seen as a sexier – and can it be said darker – version of Gotham City. Oliver-Arrow is just another Batman, except his attire doesn’t mimic a flying creature, and his voice doesn’t sound like your 70-year-old grandpa who used to smoke religiously. This comparison would make sense since “Arrow” is based on the comic book series “Green Arrow,” published by the famous DC Comics. And guess what? Batman is published by the same company.

“Arrow” does have some shining moments. One of the more interesting relationships exists between Oliver and John Diggle (David Ramsey), the former Marine bodyguard whom Moira Queen (Susanna Thompson) hires for her only son’s protection.

John slowly catches on to Oliver’s mysterious disappearances at night and his crazy hand-to-hand combat moves. Thus far, he is the only one to know about Oliver’s vigilante status. John is a character with morals, inherently knowing that what Oliver is doing is unlawful, yet also knowing that the corrupt Starling City businessmen are worse off and cannot be stopped without Arrow’s interference.

Viewers then learn that Moira might have played a hand in the mysterious way the ship had capsized in the first place. Moira is revealed to be in possession of the Queen Gambit wreckage, a discovery that causes strain between her and her husband Walter Steele (Colin Salmon).

Even though there are so many questions that need to be answered, viewers seem to be hanging on to “Arrow,” waiting for that moment when Oliver’s outside identity collides with his perfectly fabricated secret identity.

“Arrow” was granted a full season on Oct. 22 by The CW. “Damaged” was the the network’s “most watched episode since the series premiere,” with 3.75 million viewers, according to Nielsen television ratings. The next episode will be on tonight at 8 p.m.

Beach residents adjust to Sandy aftermath

Students familiar with the Mateo Sanchez, S.J., room in the Ignatius Loyola Hall will remember its tacky couches and capacity to hold no more than 50 people. Now, there are five beds, five girls, and their belongings packed into one room.

Relocated beach resident Kaitlyn Lewandowski ‘13 now resides in that same room, one of many places on the Fairfield University campus that have been converted in order to host displaced Fairfield Beach area residents who had lost their homes in Hurricane Sandy just last week.

The east coast continues to clean up after the hurricane had destroyed houses, uprooted trees and flooded many streets that left residents discouraged in the aftermath.

A large portion of the 350 displaced  residents chose to return to campus rather than commute. Lounges in halls like 70 McCormick Rd., Gonzaga, Jogues and Campion are now converted to host students. Some seniors are staying with friends on campus or rooming with underclassmen in doubles.

Director of the Office of Residential Life Ophelie Rowe-Allen, said the housing process has been “hectic,” but they are doing the best they can to meet students’ needs: “If they need a place on campus, we try to find it for them.” She said she does not place students based on how long it might take for their beach houses to be renovated.

Staff members “have been working 24 hours to get everything fixed. They’ve worked from the beginning of the storm until to now … going home late, working very late,” said Rowe-Allen.

So far, students are aware of the University’s efforts. Lewandowski said, “It’s definitely a switch going from sharing a house with five girls to sharing a room with five girls. But we’re happy just to have a place to stay.”

Senior Andrew Bromstedt, whose house didn’t flood but needs renovations to its heating system, had originally planned to move into a townhouse, but it ended up having too many people, so the Office of Residential Life moved him into Gonzaga Hall.

Bromstedt said of Res Life: “They’re doing the best they can. You can’t be too mad; it’s not like it’s their fault that the hurricane came.”

Senior Kimberly Combs, who lives with five other girls in the converted third floor lounge in Campion Hall, shared Bromstedt’s sentiments towards the University: “The school has been very accommodating, they’ve done everything they can. I mean, it’s no one’s fault.” She noted that she and her roommates chose to move off-campus, so the University didn’t have to accommodate the residents, but still did so.

That is not to say they don’t have their share of complaints. Students are still getting used to relocating from life near the waters to life on campus. They must adjust to the smaller living area, for one, as Lewandowski said.

“Just sharing a room with five people is very different from having my own room. You can’t really have people over with five roommates,” said Lewandowski.

“The school doesn’t have enough room for everyone, we can’t live like this — six seniors in a room,” said Catherine LaGreca ‘13, who rooms with Combs. According to her, the school must consider the future of students who might want to live on the beach, if the option is available by next semester.

Even though the Office of Residential Life has given them beds, added laundry swipes to their StagCards, and placed them in residences campus-wide, they don’t have enough refrigerators for campus’ new residents, causing some issues with the storage of food.

Barone is one choice for some who want a 14-meals a week plan for around $600 for the semester. But LaGreca said that she and her roommates choose to go out for food, which is getting expensive, she noted. They also are hesitant to buy a meal plan when they aren’t sure when they’d return to their beach house and not have any more use for the beach plan.

The residents in the Campion also worry about the rest of the senior year. Though they agree that it’s something that all seniors will remember and bond over for the rest of their lives, Combs and LaGreca’s roommate, Paulina Foster ‘13, agreed that Hurricane Sandy had “put a huge damper on [our senior year].”

Because “residential guidelines still apply to all students,” according to Rowe-Allen, seniors might have to adjust their social lifestyle. But the director of Residential Life said that after three years, she is not at all worried that this year’s class-fused living situation will cause problems.

For many beach students, rooming in cramped quarters and changing their lifestyles is the only option. According to Lewandowski, her beach house needs three to five months to be repaired. She received two feet of water and sewage damage in her house, and most of her belongings were destroyed. Her landlord doesn’t seem to be helping the case; she heard from a neighbor that he flew out of country after the storm.

Campion’s newest residents are unsure of their beach house’s fate. Combs noted Wednesday and Thursday’s Nor’easter has the potential to cause more damages.

Rowe-Allen noted that Hurricane Sandy seemed to bring the Fairfield University a bit closer. Alumni have come to the rescue of Stags. Community members have offered their homes in such places like Fairfield, Trumbull and Darien. She is still receiving responses as of Tuesday. “The response was ‘overwhelming,’” she concluded.

The freshmen are also accommodating their older neighbors. Freshmen Nora Garrity sympathizes with the seniors: “It’s too bad that the seniors who live at the beach have to come back to campus and live with freshmen after three years of looking forward to living on the beach.”

Freshman Deirdre Simms also said, “I would say that it is really unfortunate that the seniors have to stay in the dorms but the most important thing is that they have a place to stay. I think everyone has been making the best of the situations in the dorms.”

Bromstedt and the new residents of Campion are adapting to their circumstances. Lewandowski has found a possible new home for next year and said she was excited about the find.

For the Class of 2013, life moves on.

For more information on Fairfield University beach residents:

  • Greenwich Times published an article about Father Jeffrey von Arx, S.J., and the beach residents he reached out to.

Fairfield U. campus belted by Sandy

Photographic spread of damages in Fairfield, Conn. from Hurricane Sandy. Loan Le/The Mirror

Yesterday morning, the sun shone down on the Barone Campus Center. Fairfield University flags reclaimed their places on light poles campus-wide. The gardening staff returned to meticulously caring for the evergreen lawns on campus.

This scene was in stark contrast against Monday evening at Fairfield University, when nearly all campus buildings had gone dark and was at the mercy of Hurricane Sandy’s 80 mph winds.

News about Hurricane Sandy, dubbed by some as “Frankenstorm” or “The Superstorm,” first emerged more than a week ago. The Weather Channel was quick to notify people about its severity and even tweeted that this hurricane “will occupy a place in the annals of weather history as one of the most extraordinary to have affected the United States.”

Fairfield University cancelled Monday and Tuesday classes in preparation for Sandy. According to one of many StagAlerts that the University had sent out, “all students who can go home are strongly encouraged to do so.” For those who chose to remain, the school instructed them to stay inside at all times.

According to a campus-distributed survey, around 1000 students waited out the storm on campus.

During the storm

At approximately 5:30 p.m., the Townhouses lost power. Around 500 residents in the Townhouse complex had to be evacuated via shuttle buses to the BCC, but some students went to stay with friends in the other residence.

Because of its spaciousness, the connecting dining service and couches and furniture, the BCC became the main evacuation center during Hurricane Sandy, according to Nathan Lubich, assistant director of Residence Life, who spoke for the office. If the BCC was ever compromised, Lubich imagined that they would move students to Alumni Hall.

Some students complained about the evacuation, but Lubich said he understood the circumstances. “It’s really hard for people to be told to just sit and wait.”

But, ultimately, the Resident Assistants performed “really well,” Lubich said. The RAs, who were asked to remain on campus as “critical employees,” had their radios ready and went on rounds in their halls during the power outage. Public Safety officers also assisted in the patrol.

The Quad, the Village, Dolan and Bellarmine all lost power by 7:30 p.m. on Monday, but since the emergency lights stayed on, students were allowed to stay in their residences.

From then on was a waiting game for most. Students received Facebook and Twitter updates from the University, Fairfield Police Department, The Mirror, Fairfield University Student Association and Inter-Residential Housing Association.

Twitter also indicated smaller incidents, which happened during the outage. A fallen wire of 13,000 Hertz had caused a small fire on North Benson Road. In Mahan, some students were stuck in an elevator but were eventually freed later on in the night.

Then at about 11 p.m., almost simultaneously, power was restored to all buildings, save for the Townhouses.

Technically, Hurricane Sandy was downgraded to post-tropical cyclone status around 7 p.m. Despite this change, weather broadcasters had urged people to still take Sandy seriously.

Broken tree outside of Dolan Hall. Photo credit: Loan Le

The damages to the University campus consisted of fallen trees and some smashed cars, but these damages seemed to pale in comparison to those in the town of Fairfield.

Dealing with the Aftermath

Next Tuesday morning Fairfield was in a state of emergency with over 97 percent of residents without power. Streets and homes suffered severe flooding. Some roads were blocked by broken branches.

Because of road blockages and the power outage, for example, FPD had used the University Department of Public Safety radio frequencies to collaborate on responding to nearby damage, including the short-lived fire on North Benson Road.

Nationally, the statistics showed even more dire consequences. On Tuesday, approximately 8 million people were without power.

As of Thursday evening, CNN indicated the death toll in the U.S., Canada and the Caribbean was at 157. The cost of economic damage is at an estimated $20 billion, with some news reporting that it could possibly amount to $50 or $60 billion.

However, in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, Fairfield University moves forward with the resilience to overcome future difficulties.

Vice President of Student Affairs Thomas C. Pellegrino

The next day, Barone Campus Center Dining Hall provided full service to displaced Townhouse and Beach area residents and other students, an act that proved to Lubich the attempt to return to normality.

“Every crisis brings with it its own unique circumstances, and Hurricane Sandy was no exception. With that said, our approach is to keep students and community members safe, through best practices and through clear and timely communications,” Vice President of Student Affairs Thomas Pellegrino said.

Dolan resident Amanda LaMattina ‘14 approved of the safety measures the University had undertaken during the crisis. “I personally felt safer there than going home. My parents actually encouraged me to stay here. I can honestly say that after the hurricane I was a lot better off staying here than going home,” she said.

Similarly, Sarah McHugh ‘15 said she felt safe because “when the power went out and this storm was going on I was surrounded by my friends.”

Junior Nicole Juliano, a Townhouse resident who stayed in McInnes Hall while the evacuation had been underway, said of her current situation: “The townhouses not having power is frustrating but I can’t really complain because there are students who lost their homes completely. I’ve been staying with friends in Mahan and McInnes and we’re allowed back to our houses during the day.”

Juliano and Lubich said that the University had done a good job with keeping student up-to-date during and after the storm. Parents on Facebook found the University updates to be helpful.

On the Fairfield University Facebook page, Lisa Fescoe Petramale, who has a son enrolled, wrote: “They’re doing a fantastic job so far for the safety of all.” Another parent, Suzanne Taves, resided in California and said she “ really appreciated the updates.”

Townhouse resident Rob Garrone ‘14 also believed the University did its best in response to the hurricane, but still had criticism for some of the school’s procedures.

“I think the university is being a little heavy-handed in its response to the storm in this instance,” said Garrone. “I could easily be sleeping in my bed in my townhouse in the dark at night instead of being in someone else’s room, inconveniencing my friends and other guests like the beach residents who really do need a place to stay. I’m not afraid of the dark.”

Pellegrino also pointed other areas of improvement during natural disaster responses: “In terms of what could have been done better, I think there would be opportunity for us to streamline our communications and see to it that we were meeting reasonable expectations in terms of clarity and timeliness. That’s always something that can be worked on.”

Moving forward

Fairfield University is eager to move on. “‘Tireless efforts’ is a term that gets thrown around a lot, but in this instance, these people have very much worked around the clock this past week adjusting to the needs of an extraordinarily difficult situation,” he said.

Pellegrino said: “Suffice to say, though, that these are going to be continually challenging times. We will be there for the students, and I think the level of support received from all sectors of the University has already reaped rewards.”

“As a Jesuit institution, Fairfield does this better than most,” he said.

Published in The Mirror on Nov. 2 in a special Hurricane Sandy issue

Rowling’s new book is less than enchanting

In February 2012, fans of the fantasy book and movie series “Harry Potter” received news that J.K. Rowling would publish another book. Their enthusiasm was slightly dampened by confusion when Rowling said she had switched over to writing for adults.

“The Casual Vacancy,” released on Sept. 27, is about an idyllic town that significantly changes after the death of well-known councilor Barry Fairbrother. Barry’s death results in a ‘casual vacancy,’ an empty spot on the Pagford council.

Eventually the townspeople must decide on who should replace the deceased. Most importantly, the inheritor of Barry’s seat would determine the fate of the Fields, a housing project that is a blemish on the perfect façade of sleepy Pagford.

The fight for the seat leads to what Little, Brown and Company had described as “the biggest war the town has yet seen.” However, what the novel’s summary boasts is not fulfilled because the plot falls flat.

Each chapter consists of different characters’ coping with Barry’s death and the imminent voting that would change the town. Naturally, one would think more characters would add plenty of colors to the plot. The saying is: “The more, the merrier.” Yet, this gets repetitive and monotonous.

Crammed into the first 350 pages are descriptions of the town of Pagford and day-to-day thoughts of too many characters to count. The rest of the 500-paged novel details the characters’ emotional unraveling. Loyalties are reconsidered. Families break apart. Posts revealing secrets about the running candidates slowly appear on the Pagford council’s website and further enrage locals when the user’s name is The_Ghost_of_Barry_Fairbrother.

Harry Potter fans might resort, out of sheer boredom, to comparing this novel to the beloved series, but the only comparable aspect is a Vernon Dursley doppelganger named Howard Mollison, who is a pot-bellied, lecherous councilman with an abhorrence for the Fields. His wife Shirley, a gossiper, most definitely fits the mold of Vernon’s horse-faced wife, Petunia Dursley. Otherwise, Rowling does succeed in separating herself from her bestselling series.

Though the plot falls flat and characters crowd the novel’s pages, Rowling deserves praise for her story-telling; she has the sought-after ability to conjure (see what happened there?) a different world. Sadly, this fictional world is just not as interesting as the wizarding world.

When Rowling said this was an adult novel, she was definitely correct. Within the first hundred pages of “The Casual Vacancy,” the story branches into topics of sex, drugs and affairs. One sexually frustrated wife fantasizes about the men in town. The son of the local school’s headmaster fornicates with the daughter of a drug-addicted woman from the Fields. Every curse word in the dialogue causes a jolt, a sheer indication that Rowling has, in fact, moved on.

Recently, at the Cheltenham Literature Festival in England, Rowling said she would return to writing a children’s book. Perhaps this might be a better choice for Rowling.

Fairfield garden serves needs of students

Photo Credit: Loan Le/The Mirror

The collective efforts of Fairfield University students, faculty and administration in 2010 produced a sustainable garden that continues to push the school towards more green initiatives.

Located west of the Dolan School of Business, the 3,000 square feet garden hosts annual and perennial herbs and vegetables like butter squash, tomatoes, jalapeno and Swiss chard.

The produce grown depends on what students might like.

The concept of sustainability deals with the notion that the human race can depend on the natural environment for their survival. Humans and nature can function in unison so that the present and future can be secured.

Junior Jesus Nunez, a garden intern since summer 2011, pushes for the school to become more environmentally friendly. The garden tries to use as little chemicals as possible.

“We have enough energy issues as it is,” said Nunez. “The only way we can really survive as a human race, especially as our populations grow, is to cut down on energy use, on the use of pesticides and the use of fertilizers . . . The more we learn about how to grow our own food, how to grow it in a natural way, the better for everybody.”

Associate Professor of biology Tod Osier Ph.D., said: “I feel like the garden is coming into its own, but it still is evolving every year. New projects like the bees and looking into growing herbal teas are new areas of interest and very exciting. We are continuing to work with the chefs in the campus center to refine what we grow.”

However, the garden has encountered its share of problems since its founding.

“There is also the very real issue of just being successful in actually producing the crops that you want to grow in spite of the weather, insects and disease – that always keeps things interesting,” Osier said.

Nunez also mentioned that the garden once had to deal with powdery mildew, symptoms include white spots that form on the surface of the vegetables. The occasional cat or dog might sneak into the garden, but the deer might pose a problem, since they are herbivores and could eat the vegetables.

To combat these problems and prevent repeat incidents, different gardening techniques are employed. Every year, Nunez said they do crop rotation by planting vegetables in different areas within the land each season, in order to slow the spread of pests and diseases. To enrich and manage the soil fertility, cover crops, such as legumes, are planted.

Nunez and volunteers go in ‘work parties’ on Sundays at 2 p.m. and Tuesdays at 4 p.m. to weed and clean up the garden.

“Facilities Management has also provided a lot of support by supplying mulch, compost, and top soil,” added Associated Professor of Biology Jennifer Klug, Ph.D., also an advisor.

The garden contributes to the campus’ dining services and residential life.

The dining services (Sodexo) use all of the herbs in the garden according to Resident Dining Supervisor Amy Krosky.

Recently, on Sept. 17, for a Bellarmine lunch, 75 percent of the produce used had been from the garden.

Sodexo employs professionally trained chefs who adapt the daily menus to the naturally grown produce that is available in season.

From Sept. 16 to 22, the school participated with 64 other locations in Farm-to-Chef Week, an event promoted by Connecticut Department of Agriculture which connects chefs and food service establishments with local farmers.

Junior Laura Ballanco, a former Leaders for Environmental Action at Fairfield member, remembers the previous ‘Farm to Chef’ weeks that the dining service has participated in. According to her, the taste of local produce is noticeable.

“You can taste the freshness. I felt like I was eating at home,” Ballanco said.

The garden is also not limited to campus use. According to the Fairfield Dining Service website, harvests are done during the fall and then the garden donates a portion to the Connecticut Food Bank through Harvest Now, a non-profit organization that pairs garden communities up with local food banks.

Though mainly funded by the Division of Administration of Student Services, the Office of Academic Engagement and the Biology Department and Program on the Environment also keep the garden afloat.

“Fairfield should be at the forefront of these agricultural-environmental issues, because it’s the future,” said Nunez, “because then everyone has the means to access good, quality food that has low-impact on the earth.”

Fairfield U car fire victim still in critical condition

A Fairfield University student remains in critical condition after being badly burned in a car fire.

Part-time student Justin Hervey, 23, of Armonk, N.Y., was rushed to Bridgeport Hospital last Thursday evening after he and his Chevrolet Tahoe caught fire near Tunxis Hill Park in Fairfield, Conn.

According to a Connecticut Post article, a Little League baseball game was in progress when coaches and parents noticed Hervey on fire near the field. Hervey had pulled into the parking lot when the car started having trouble.

Coaches immediately rushed over and tried to extinguish the flames. This quick thinking was “heroic and should be applauded,” said Assistant Fire Chief Scott Bisson in the article.

Hervey was still conscious when emergency personnel arrived on scene.

As of late Tuesday night, Hervey’s condition remains critical, according to Bridgeport Hospital spokesperson John Cappiello.

Hervey’s sister, Stephanie Hervey ‘13, said that her family is hoping for the best. “He’s still in critical condition,” she said. “He will be for a few months, but . . . he’s pulling through right now so hopefully he will continue to do so.”

Word about Hervey’s condition spread to the University community the day after the incident.

In an email released to the community on Friday, Vice President for Student Affairs Thomas Pellegrino wrote: “We are monitoring his situation closely and University staff members have extended support to his family, who is with him at this time.” Pellegrino also offered students and faculty counseling options.

Because the accident is currently under investigation, little information about the cause of the fire is available, according to a Fairfield Fire Department official. However, in a Hartford Courant article, Sergeant Suzanne Lussier, a Fairfield Police spokesperson, said that the fire originated in the passenger compartment of Hervey’s car.

Stephanie called Hervey the “shining star” of the family and “the best brother I could have ever asked for.”

Hervey’s family asked that people  continue to pray for him.

Battle continues: Faculty rally, Von Arx under fire

Faculty and students make their way over to the Gonzaga Auditorium. Photo by Nick DiFazio.

Late afternoon on Wednesday, as students were taking their final exams, a united voice sprang from the outside. Students scrambled to their windows to discover the noise and to their surprise, they saw a line of faculty members and students marching towards the doors of the Gonzaga Auditorium.

As the group walked over to where President Jeffrey Von Arx, S.J., would make his end-of-the-year address to the faculty, they chanted in unison: “Fairfield united, we’ll never be divided” and “Unity, community, put the ‘fair’ in Fairfield!” Many wore signs and carried bright red papers that read “broken promises.”

The faculty members wanted to publicize at the rally the fight between them and the administration, which had, up until a few weeks ago, occurred without many students’ knowledge.

Since 1994, the University had been committed to keeping the faculty’s total compensation at a 95th percentile, a benchmark for the faculty’s salary and benefits. This high compensation is integral to recruiting faculty members to the school. Recently, administration said they must reconsider the terms of that 95th percentile.

In addition, administration also proposed cuts to the faculty’s benefits in health coverage and benefits. Over the years, faculty members have already conceded benefits in order to deal with the school’s financial troubles. In turn, the administration said they would commit to upholding the 95th percentile agreement. English professor Robert Epstein, had supported this because he said he trusted the administration to follow through with their promise.

Although the administration had once stood “firmly” behind this commitment to maintain a 95th percentile, they have since removed “firmly” from their language, according to an April 27 General Faculty meeting.

Because of the disagreements on the terms of their salary and benefits, the faculty has refused to sign a Memo of Understanding (MOU), a document that outlines the faculty members’ salary and benefits.

Read more background information on this issue in “Faculty battles broken promises,” published in the May 2 edition.

At the President’s address, Epstein has withdrawn his support for the administration. “I made the mistake of taking the President and the rest of the administration at their word,” he said to his colleagues. “And I promise you that I will not make that mistake again.”

More than 150 faculty and student attendees at Wednesday’s meeting.

Like other faculty members, Nancy Dallavalle, associate professor of religious studies, acknowledged the changes that are undergoing in institutions of higher education and the financial struggles the University has. However, she believes the commitment to the 95th percentile should not be sidelined.

Von Arx asserted that the administration’s agreement to maintain the total compensation at a 95th percentile benchmark is “not off the table.”

“The issue is not whether we hold this commitment to competitive compensation. Of course we do,” Von Arx said. However, the compensation may not be at the desired 95th percentile.

“For us to stand here and say we are committed to the 95th percentile moving forward when we know that we are in . . . a situation of financial constraint where we may or may not be able to reach the benchmark does not seem to be, to me, [very honest],” Von Arx said.

Von Arx proposed that the faculty and administration try to find an “appropriate and sustainable benchmark.”

Members in the audience expressed their discontent with murmured comments and scoffs.

David Crawford, a professor of anthropology asked Von Arx why the 95th percentile should be eliminated now, after the administration had repeated their commitment throughout the year.

He and his colleagues criticized the administration for a lack of communication. Another attendee said to Von Arx: “You are the leader of this community . . . You never thought to call us together when this crisis was unfolding months ago . . . you chose instead, as far as I can tell, to work at this with a small group of people behind the walls of Bellarmine.

“We hear you talk the talk about community but you don’t walk the walk.”

Thunderous applause followed.

According to Crawford, for the faculty to sign the administration’s proposed agreement that guarantees only short-term solutions to their salary and benefits would be “foolish” to do.

Faculty members also believe that the University has prioritized administration, athletics and renovation plans over the faculty itself.

Earlier that day, a document was sent to the General Faculty and it included information from IPED, the federal Education Department’s Integrated Post-Secondary Education Data System, which puts a certain university’s expenditure into seven categories. The Mirror was able to obtain a copy.

In the document it is shown that for expenditures towards Instruction, Fairfield University placed second to last out of the 16 in the comparison group of universities it compares itself. Fairfield’s percentage of total expenditure on Instruction is 37.86 percent.

Schools like Wesleyan University, Villanova University, and Quinnipiac University spend over 50 percent.

Faculty members also criticized the high number of administrators, and how much of the University’s expenditure goes towards the Institution Support. The University ranks as the fourth highest with 23.69 percent of the expenditures. The school has 18 vice presidents, including associate and assistant positions, and 29 senior administrators, including the president, a number that seemed unreasonable to philosophy professor Joy Gordon.

Von Arx countered that all of these positions are necessary for the school to properly function.

Gordon also voiced her opinion that the money spent on athletics has increased unjustifiably. In 2003, the amount of money spent on athletics was 8.3 million dollars. In 2010, it was 15.7 million dollars.

Overall, the view of the rallying faculty members was this: Reducing the faculty’s compensation to offset financial constraint from bad administrative decisions is not the answer.

Ultimately, the faculty members believe the school’s reputation is at stake. One professor said: “There will be no quality university if there are no quality faculty.”

Not only professors spoke their minds; students also entered the dialogue. Several students joined in the rally before the meeting. Senior Jasmine Mickey said that she wanted to “support the faculty that supported us the whole four years.”

Similarly, at the end of the meeting, Mikaela Tierney ‘12, former Editor-in-Chief of The Mirror, said to the President Von Arx: “There’s one priority you need to focus on. It’s respecting and working with the faculty.”

He agreed to work on faculty and administration dialogue in the future.

“I am doing the best I can,” Von Arx said. “Yeah, it hurts; my heart bleeds over this stuff. But it is what it is. Right now, my sense is to carry on in the best way I can. We are in a very difficult situation.” He went on to acknowledge that other universities are experiencing some financial restraints as well.

When asked about his feelings towards the result of Wednesday’s meeting, which largely discussed the total compensation of the faculty, Von Arx answered that there wasn’t much that hadn’t been said in previous meetings, but it is still “always important to listen to how people feel.”

Published on The Mirror website


Faculty and Student Rally, a set on Flickr.