Rag Week back on campus in Galway – 13 years after ban for bad behaviour


Rag Week back on campus in Galway – 13 years after ban for bad behaviour

Rag Week will return to the University of Galway campus next month, after being banished for bad behaviour 13 years ago.

The university’s Students’ Union announced that the fundraising event would be held on the college campus with the permission of management, which first withdrew its support in 2009 following antisocial behaviour in the city.

NUI Galway Students’ Union followed suit, cancelling Rag Week on campus in 2011 in return for a number of concessions from the college, including free use of the on-campus healthcare facilities for all students and an increase in the university’s contribution to the student assistance fund. The measures cost the university €60,000.

Students’ Union Vice President and Welfare and Equality Officer Izzy Tiernan thanked the university for this opportunity “to bring Raise and Give (RAG) Week back to its roots of fun and fundraising on campus.

“We will have our Student Safety Watch and clean-up volunteer crews operating throughout the week to make sure everything goes smoothly”, they said.

University of Galway Dean of Students Professor Ciara Meehan said the institution supported the new approach to Rag Week and was working with the students’ union on the planning of a series of on-campus events.

“The emphasis is on respect, inclusivity, charity, community and belonging. Our hope is that this will become a flagship week in the academic year on-campus. Alcohol-free events are also a key part of the plan and the focus will be less about days and nights out in the city and more about encouraging students, and their societies, and their clubs to raise money for good causes in Galway and nationally,” she stated.

“We should also remember that over the last 20 years, the University of Galway Student’s Union and societies have fundraised a combined €3.3m for their chosen charities. Last year alone, societies raised more than €130,000 for charity through individual endeavours, with initiatives dotted over the course of the year.

“Galway is a student city, recently ranked among the Top 10 in the world by CampusAdvisor. Students bring a lot to the city and do lots of good things. We hope a new approach to Rag Week will empower them to go even further in their support for charity, re-establishing a great tradition at our university.”

Over a decade ago, the union blamed negative publicity generated by “the antics of a minority of young people” for its decision to cancel. In 2011 there were 30 arrests for public drunkenness and disorder.

Two years earlier, the university, then NUIG, said the “series of unfortunate incidents” had influenced its decision to withdraw its support for Rag Week.

There were over 40 arrests related to Rag Week events in Galway city that year.

The college had criticised the “easy availability of cheap alcohol during this week”, along with special offers and extended drinking hours in some pubs and clubs. They had written to publicans and off-licences twice that year to urge restraint but no cooperation was forthcoming.

When the students’ union turned its back on the event regarded as a rite of passage for generations of students, Donegal Tuesday and later Mayo Monday were organised on an ad hoc basis. Hundreds of revellers queued outside popular student bars from early in the morning.

Last year a previous hotspot, the  Hole in the Wall, implemented an Over-21s policy and announced it wouldn’t accept big groups of people wearing sports jerseys.

Rag Week events this year will take place on the university campus from Sunday to Friday, February 11 to 16, raising funds for the Galway Rape Crisis Centre and Cancer Care West. Events include a Firewalk in the Quadrangle, a head-shave, a charity auction, a 5km fun run, a Taylor Swift Night and a 5-a- side Tournament.

Students’ Union President Dean Kenny said they were delighted to be bringing the craic back to campus.

“These events are a great chance for our campus community to come together and have some fun while also raising much-needed funds for our nominated charities. I’ll be sacrificing my hair at the Shave-Off and would encourage all our students and staff to get involved in events.”

The last Rag Week had the Saw Doctors as the opening act. This time out The Tumbling Paddies (photographed) will play Sult bar and café at 8pm on the opening Monday. An Púcán has organised a Rag Week Silent Disco for Valentine’s Night.

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