As the Christmas season approaches in Connecticut, Fairfield University students are in high spirits. Each December at Fairfield holds the promise of the yearly tree lighting ceremony, Stuff-a-Stag and, of course, SantaCon.

By all accounts, SantaCon 2022 was a fracas. The sheer number of Fairfield students, combined with an influx of students from nearby universities, choked traffic in the already-tight space around Lantern Point, delaying the response of emergency services to the area. Reports of disorderly conduct at the party were also higher than usual.

Pictured above is a glimpse of SantaCon 2022 at Lantern Point in Fairfield, Conn.

To say that local residents and the administration of the University were displeased with these events would be an understatement. The prohibition of guest ticket sales for the ultimately-canceled ClamJam in April was a direct result of the problems associated with SantaCon. In fact, the mess that was last year’s SantaCon has called into question the future of large, themed parties at Lantern Point.

Before the 2023 iteration of ShamJam, I wrote an opinion piece that discussed the possibility of events like SantaCon and ShamJam gradually making the transition from off-campus to on-campus traditions. The new model, as implemented by the University in March, featured of-age students spending the day at the Seagrape while younger students partied in a controlled environment at the junior townhouses.

As it turned out, this most recent iteration of ShamJam proved remarkably successful at keeping traffic and disorderly conduct at the Point to a minimum. Such success begs an important question: Should this model be implemented for all large-scale parties throughout the year?

Much like ShamJam, this year’s SantaCon will see seniors attending an event from 11-4 at the Seagrape. Without enough seniors on the beach hosting the party, it is possible that the situation might not escalate to the degree that it did last year. As of yet, however, the University has not announced the presence of a similar “designated alcohol-consumption area” for students on campus like the one created for ShamJam.

Without this area, younger students may be tempted to descend on Lantern Point as they did one year ago. Worse still, these younger students may do so without considerable oversight from the seniors responsible for maintaining good relations with the year-round beach community.

The most recent communication from the Office of the Dean of Students has assured the community of prompt action by law enforcement to shut down any gathering with “the potential to escalate to an event like last year.”

Nobody in the town of Fairfield, University-associated or not, wishes SantaCon 2023 to be a repeat of last year’s events. Yet, without some school-sponsored alternative similar to that which was created for ShamJam, this year’s celebration does not seem poised to improve Fairfield students’ track record with the town when it comes to large celebrations.