We need to talk about ShamJam.

No, this isn’t about how much green to wear, the best Irish music to play or even the dreaded question of the weather forecast for March 4th (I’ll leave that to Chief Meteorologist Ryan Assarian). Rather, we need to talk about the arrangements that Fairfield University has made for the event; namely, the designated alcohol consumption area at the Townhouses.

The implementation of this strategy was outlined in a February 24th email from Meredith Smith, director of residence life, and Tolulope Omole, assistant director for junior and senior living. The decision permits responsible alcohol consumption in the area between Townhouse blocks 2-6 “between 12pm and roughly 4pm” on March 4th. However, it also prohibits student gatherings in other residence blocks during the same time period. For those who do not wish to drink, food trucks and other programming will be provided in the Quad.

The university’s decision to provide of-age students with a place to drink in peace for March 4th is unprecedented, if not necessarily unexpected. Although the escapades of the Fairfield student community at SantaCon last December are well represented on social media, they are not actions that have endeared the community to the administration or the residents of the town of Fairfield.

For those who may have forgotten, these actions included: public urination, open container violations, disorderly conduct, misuse of alcohol, incapacitation due to alcohol, and interruption of timely intervention by emergency services at Lantern Point. Yikes.

Put simply, Fairfield students did not look their best during SantaCon. While it is true that students from UConn, Quinnipiac, and Sacred Heart formed a portion of the crowd, the vast majority of attendees were undoubtedly Stags. With another highly touted student party fast approaching, the administration appears to have one goal in mind: prevent another debacle like SantaCon 2022 from disrupting the university’s delicate relationship with the town of Fairfield. The designated alcohol consumption area is a shrewd solution to this problem.

The most egregious problems witnessed at SantaCon were the result of too many non-beach residents converging on the point, choking the narrow roads with rideshares. Furthermore, restrictive open-container laws led students to drink heavily prior to their arrival in an effort to maintain a buzz for the duration of the party. At their best, these students were disorderly; at their worst, they strained the town’s police and medical services.

The approved plan for ShamJam has the ability, at least in theory, to mitigate these problems. Keeping the drinking close to home may disincentivize students to indulge in binge drinking, like that which occurred at SantaCon. If something goes wrong, the Department of Public Safety will be well-equipped to respond quickly and effectively. Perhaps most importantly, a party that is restricted to the Townhouses has minimal potential to irritate town residents.

If properly implemented, the university’s plan for ShamJam has the potential to make the event no more problematic than the average Saturday darty. If students are willing to work with the administration to make this iteration of ShamJam a success, then it could easily become the model for major student parties in the future.