Senior management at Galway University in Ireland have withdrawn their support for the long-running tradition of RAG (Raising and Giving) week after 42 arrests, all related to RAG events, were made during the week.
Promoted by Sussex as an “exorbitant amount of fun”, RAG week is about raising money for a chosen few charities and having fun at the same time. Each year RAG takes over and activities such as foam parties, ‘naked Tuesdays’ and pub crawls prevail, all in the name of charity. This year the nominated charities were the children’s cancer-support group CD’s Helping Hands, Galway Rape Crisis Centre, L’Arche, which supports people with intellectual disabilities, and the Belarus Orphanage Project.
However, for the residents of Galway, RAG week has become synonymous with drinking, late night partying and inevitable student excesses. Disillusioned residents have complained that the “traditional values have been lost” and RAG week is no longer about raising and giving but just an excuse to party. For many students, this is the highlight of the year, an opportunity to let their hair down and have fun before the hard study slog prior to exams. In Ireland, Rag week began on Monday, with students gathering in pubs in the city centre at 10.30am.
However, by the end of the week, 42 arrests had been reported, all related to RAG events. University management described the charity element as being “overshadowed by a minority of students using this time as an opportunity for excessive drinking, leading ultimately to unsafe, unruly and anti-social behaviour” and claim they had to apologise to city residents for the “disruption and distress” caused by the students.
‘For the residents of Galway, RAG week has become synonymous with drinking, late night partying and inevitable student excesses’
With RAG week ultimately a tool to encourage participation, and drinking being such a major part of student culture, it’s no surprise that alcohol is used as a means to draw fellow students in.
The same goes for the Sussex RAG’s, with the promotion of pub crawls, band nights and weekends away clubbing.
However, at Galway University students’ union, president Muireann O’Dwyer thinks this is no reason for the university to withdraw its support. She argued that many non-alcoholic events had also been arranged and over €20,000 was raised for the well- deserving charities. For this fact alone, Muireann does not believe the college’s move was justified and she promises that RAG week would continue this week and in future years.