Should Galway’s RAG Week be reinstated?

As unofficial RAG week draws to a close, many people wonder should the annual “raise and give” week be re-established for National University of Ireland Galway and Galway Mayo Institute of Technology students. Here are three reasons why I think the charity week should be brought back.

1. There’s still a RAG week: RAG week happens every year regardless of Student Union support. The Student’s Unions in both colleges pulled their support for RAG week in 2011. In fact, I think that now RAG week has become unofficial, it is out of control. Arguably the craziest RAG week was 2012, when people took over Supermac’s. 2013 rivalled this, with students climbing street lamps in Eyre Square. Organisation of RAG week may lead to less public order offences. For example, the University of Limerick’s Charity Week events are ticketed, therefore controlling numbers. Their events are also organised on campus, limiting the number of students roaming the city until at least night time. They even have Meitheal na MacLeinn, who are groups of paid students who go around the student estates and help people get home safely, ensuring they don’t cause any trouble. If NUIG were willing to implement programmes like this perhaps RAG week wouldn’t be so notorious. However, I believe NUIG’s RAG week problem is also geographical. The campus is so close to the city it is impossible to stop students from wandering in. If other colleges in different counties had such a central campus, they would have the same issues we do.

2. No money is being raised for charity: now that the raise and give element of RAG week is gone, people are going out and drinking like they would on a regular night out (although RAG week seems to be an excuse to go overboard). All of the money raised through events are going to the nightclubs and pubs. I am all for supporting local businesses, but would it not be better for the SUs to reclaim the week to ensure this money is going to those in need? Arguably, NUIG have made more money available to their students rather than charity in recent years. The University upped the Student Assistance fund from €33,000 to €93,000 because the SU agreed to scrap RAG week, according to the Irish Independent. Now the same anti-social behaviour is taking place, in aid of the charity “getting drunk for the sake of it”.

3. Hypocrisy surrounding claims of student’s “anti-social behaviour”: there is a lot of media coverage surrounding the bad behaviour of students during RAG week. I was out on Monday and Wednesday night this year and I can’t defend the behaviour of some people. There were people absolutely inebriated, lying on the ground, puddles of sick every five steps, smashed bottles of Buckfast and Supermac’s food wrappers strewn everywhere.However, I have also been in Galway city during St. Patrick’s Day and have seen some very intoxicated adults, and I know other people who have attended the Galway Races and the race-goers drunken behaviour is just as bad. It is easy to blame the student lifestyle when it comes to overindulging in alcohol. This is overly-simplistic. There is a problematic drinking culture in Ireland and it affects everyone. We are so quick to criticise young people, yet adults engage in the very same anti-social behaviour. Perhaps I am biased because I am a young person, but I challenge you to look around next Paddy’s Day and see for yourself who is engaging in drunken antics.

RAG week may be over for this year but its legacy leaves a mark on Galway city. According to the Connacht Tribune, 21 arrests were made, although Gardai were generally happy with how RAG week turned out, with no serious incidents.

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