It’s not often that students see write-in candidates win the Fairfield University Student Association presidency, but that is exactly what happened on Feb. 27 when sophomores Andrew Mejia-Hernandez ‘26 and Bryan Santos ‘26 won the 77th FUSA election. 

“We always thought and joked about it last year. But you know how they say there’s some truth to some jokes?,” said Mejia. 

Although the two frequently talked about running for FUSA together, they did not make their decision to run until after the Feb. 7 deadline to declare their candidacy had already passed. Juniors Giovanni Young ‘25 and his running mate Connor Hernon ‘25 were the only declared candidates on the ballot. 

I was a little surprised, but I know that we worked tirelessly to get support. Even if we didn’t win, we felt that we definitely worked hard to try and get it.

77th FUSA Vice President-Elect Bryan Santos ’26

According to Mejia, he and Santos had received a lot of encouragement from their peers in FUSA after the deadline had passed, saying that they should have run. With a boost of confidence, Mejia called Santos on Facetime late one night and asked him to be his vice president. 

Together, they spent hours talking about their future platform and how they would get votes as undeclared candidates.  

“You learn from everything no matter what, win or lose…so we decided to give it a try,” said Mejia. 

Mejia highlighted three main focuses of their platform: (1) sustainability principles of student wellness, (2) commuter student support and advocacy and (3) Stag safety, campus culture and nightlife. 

The first focus stems from their desire to continue their work with FUSA’s Health and Wellness Committee, promoting students’ mental, physical and financial wellness. Both of them are on the committee that formed last year.. Mejia is the co-chair of the committee, along with senior Julia Kormylo ‘24, and Santos is the fitness and nutrition representative. 

The second focus of their platform stems from Santos’ personal experience as a commuter student. 

“I’m grateful that I’ve been able to get engaged and meet the people who I have met,” said Santos. “Now, I want the same for other communities…to be able to feel engaged and included on campus.”

Santos shared that he has already begun conversations with faculty about ways to engage commuter students more on campus.

The two also hope to improve safety and the nightlife culture on campus with their third focus by hosting more events in the Levee and Stag. Mejia mentioned that they hope to implement a system similar to Boston College, which allows students to register social gatherings by filling out “Party Registration” forms.

“If one of our partner Jesuit schools has done it, we should be able to as well,” said Mejia. 

We saw that voting was much less this year compared to last year, but I’m glad that we were able to, at least from word of mouth, get some engagement from people that didn’t even know what FUSA was.

77th FUSA President-Elect Andrew Mejia-Hernandez ’26

As undeclared candidates, the two sophomores were not allowed to participate in the presidential debate that took place on Feb. 22. Mejia also shared that they could not begin their campaign by word of mouth until after the ballots had opened that day. 

“There’s a lot of limitations when it comes to being a write-in candidate because we haven’t technically declared our candidacy…we were pretty much walking on eggshells,” said Mejia when talking about efforts to follow FUSA’s election code. 

FUSA Court shared the 2023-24 Campaign Election Code with The Rearview. Out of the ten page document, Article IV, Section 6 is the only section that pertains to write-in candidates. 

The only rule listed that pertains specifically to write-in candidates states, “In order to be considered a valid write-in candidate, the candidate must receive a number of write-in votes that is equal to the number of required petition signatures to get on the ballot.”

Declared candidates for FUSA President and Vice President must receive 200 signatures on the official FUSA Petition Form in order to be placed on the ballot. Thus, Mejia and Santos needed to receive at least 200 write-in votes. 

FUSA is looking into its archives to confirm whether or not write-in candidates have ever won the presidential election before, according to Mejia. 

I would have voted if I knew that there were other candidates who were running for the presidency. I didn’t even know that it was going on with the lack of campaigning.

Senior Brenna Kennedy ’24

Mejia is majoring in electrical engineering with a concentration in computer engineering and minors in math and physics, while Santos is majoring in both finance and international business with a minor in politics. 

Mejia knew that Santos was the best choice to run with him as vice president. 

“As a commuter and as involved as he is—that is someone who I would want working alongside me,” said Mejia. “I knew the chemistry was there. We have the same ambition and just work well together.”

Santos shared how the two “tirelessly” worked together, knocking on door after door in various residential halls around campus. 

“We saw that voting was much less this year compared to last year, but I’m glad that we were able to, at least from word of mouth, get some engagement from people that didn’t even know what FUSA was,” said Mejia. 

There were 566 total votes with Mejia-Hernandez and Santos securing 356 votes, Young-Annunziato and Hernon securing 175 and other write-in candidates securing 35. With nearly 5,000 undergraduate students at Fairfield, only roughly 11 percent of the student body voted. 

Last year, 1,054 students voted in the 76th FUSA Election. Some students say that the number of votes was cut in half this year because students assumed Young and Hernon would win unopposed. 

“I would have voted if I knew that there were other candidates who were running for the presidency,” said Brenna Kennedy ‘24. “I didn’t even know that it was going on with the lack of campaigning.” 

When Mejia and Santos were announced as the winners on Feb. 27, they both were excited. 

“I’m the type of kid where…you give a Christmas gift or birthday gift to and I don’t even know how to react,” said Mejia. “That’s essentially how I felt, but it was a good sense of shock.”

While Mejia expressed being pleasantly surprised, Santos relayed that he wasn’t to the same extent since they put in a lot of time and effort to campaign by word-of-mouth. 

“I was a little surprised, but I know that we worked tirelessly to get support,” said Santos. “Even if we didn’t win, we felt that we definitely worked hard to try and get it.” 

Mejia and Santos are now in the process of transitioning into their new roles under the current 76th FUSA President Aliyah Seenauth ‘24 and Vice President Zachary Vargas ‘24. 

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