I already know what you want to talk about. I know because RAG week is all anyone’s been talking about for days. I find myself in the interesting position of someone who engaged in RAG week and now must report on it. I’m going to try to be as honest and as blunt as possible so as to give an unbiased realistic account of the events that transpired the last week in February two-thousand and nine, anno domini.
I had fun. That might not be important journalistically but it is important to me so I thought I’d go ahead and say it. It’s fun to say it. I mean, if you’re not having fun, then you should reconsider why you’re doing whatever it is you’re doing. Not to say that anything that isn’t fun isn’t worthwhile. That’s ridiculous. What I’m trying (and failing) to say is that sometimes the point of something is that you’ll enjoy it. However, the point of RAG week is to Raise and Give money to charity. This aspect of the holiday may be lost on the unwashed masses that contribute to news headlines instead of charities but the fact remains that over €20,000 was raised in that one week by students of NUI Galway for the RAG charities: CD’s Helping Hands, Galway Rape Crisis Centre, L’Arche Community and the Belarusian Orphanage Project. The question we have to ask is, do the ends justify the means? The short answer seems to be no as RAG week has apparently been cancelled next year, but I’ll get to that later. The first rule of freedom has always been “Do No Harm”. Doctors have to swear an oath when they get certified and it has always been my belief that people can do what they like as long as it doesn’t affect another in a bad way. Unfortunately, one of the main aspects of RAG week is alcohol which tends to affect the better judgement of even the most reliable of folk. I didn’t witness any atrocious events firsthand but I heard tell of several terrible stories. Apparently over forty people were arrested for alcohol related reasons. The worst rumour I heard, which I can in no way verify and may well be false, is that someone urinated in the holy water font of the cathedral during a funeral. This is a horrible act and if it did happen then there’s no excuse, alcohol or otherwise, that could make it any less reprehensible. This story is an exception to the norm. The RTÉ news (and TV3 et cetera) doesn’t provide coverage for anything that people won’t be interested in. The sad fact of life is that people find tragedy, conflict and evil more interesting than the random acts of kindness that happen every day. There is a reason that the characters in Coronation Street don’t lead happy carefree lives. Nobody wants to watch things go well. Conflict is the essence of drama. When someone does something bad enough they get on television until we reach a certain point where we only ever hear about people’s mistakes, flaws and sins. RAG week featured violent people, drunken people and bad people doing bad things. But these are the exceptions to the norm. The vast majority of students were doing their best to have fun without interfering with anyone else. We don’t hear about them because “good” and “normal” isn’t interesting.
So now RAG week is cancelled. Except it’s not. If students want to take a week off and get drunk instead of going to lectures then they’re going to. History shows that university students are typically a rebellious lot so any effort to quash people’s attempts at fun will result in increased acts of rebellion; be it vandalism, violence or vice. I don’t have a solution, except to let the tradition continue and plead with students to prove that we’re better than we’re made out to be by the media and to try and rise above the actions of the least of us. I beseech the public to not paint all of us with the same brush. Sometimes it really is a small few who give the rest of us a bad name.