Ragging behind


Compared to other campuses, UCD’s Rag Week is relatively quiet, Sean Finnan asks why this is the case and how this could be about to change

Waking up for a breakfast of last night’s half-empty cans of flat beer, trying to convince yourself that the hair of the dog actually works is the usual method of recovery for many students during Rag Week across the country. UCD’s Rag Week, however, lacks the reputation (or notoriety) that corresponding events in other universities conjure.

It is a problem that most of the Dublin campuses seem to have where the universal bonding that brings a terrific atmosphere to the cities of Galway and Cork, is somewhat flat in here on our beloved campus and indeed around the Dublin area. Is it due to the size of UCD and the fact that the festivities seem to assemble in certain parts of the college (and yet are completely absent in other parts of the campus) that makes the event somewhat fragmented?

Second-year Health and Performance Science student Niall McGovern spoke to The University Observer about the problem he perceives of Rag Week on campus. “I suppose a lot of people live at home in Dublin so there’s not the whole campus vibe, the same as down the country or whatever. There’s no deal about it. Nobody seems to really care about it. Down in Cork you don’t have lectures for the week so everyone is just hanging around the campus just having the craic.”

Rag week, however, still has an important place in the college’s social calendar. Each year, hundreds of UCD students participate with their fellow classmates in raising much-needed funds for their charities of choice, usually in a manner of mayhem and fun. The University Observer spoke to UCD Students’ Union Ents Vice-President Jonny Cosgrove on why he believes this year’s turnout for Rag Week has surpassed previous efforts and how he is hoping that this week is just the start.

“It’s going really well, I’m really happy. It’s going much better than the years before purely based on the fact of branching out and talking with the likes of Mike Pat and my predecessors.

“What we’ve done is worked with the society’s council to make sure that everyone is involved. The Union touches so many people but everyone has their niches in the societies so between all the different societies and different events, we have had hundreds of students involved with constant things happening on campus, rather than having something big and bold. We’re building a foundation this year so that within a few years we’ll be at the same standard as the west.”

Unlike Galway, for example, UCD has never had the problem of drunk and disorderly students wreaking havoc on local communities to such an extent that college authorities deemed it necessary to cancel the week.

In 2009, approximately 25 students were arrested. This reputation has transformed NUIG Rag Week into something of a pilgrimage in which thousands of students from all over Ireland endeavour to remain drunk and enjoy the fun of the highlight of Galway’s social calendar. Although this is certainly the highlight of any Rag Week, its reputation is not wholly positive.

With previous years Rag Weeks being something of a let down, UCD Ents’s main focus for this year is on getting a bit of a buzz round campus rather than just raising funds for charity.
“The aspect hasn’t been on the whole raise-and-give element,” says Cosgrove. “Whatever we raise I’ll be happy with that. I think so far, still roughly speaking, there’s a few grand raised. If we raise a euro I’m happy, but were going to aim for over the three grand mark and have that build up from every year here on up.

“It’s in aid of the UCD Community Outreach Fund which is a new fund myself and the societies have set up. Basically, it is a UCD-founded charity type thing. It’s a tester to see how it works out, but I think it’s going to be really good.”

With societies such as Jazz Soc proclaiming this Rag Week to be their busiest in memory, it seems that there is a vibe emanating from the UCD campus. If this atmosphere can extend beyond the nucleus of the Student Centre, then perhaps a Rag Week worth comparing to “the west” will arrive.