NUI Galway (NUIG) has withdrawn their support for the university’s annual rag week due to a number of incidents which has led to up to 40 arrests being made. A number of complaints were made by residents regarding unruly behaviour to which the university responded by withdrawing their support of the event saying it was to “protect the welfare of students and of the neighbouring community.”
NUIG Students’ Union (SU) President, Muireann O’Dwyer, said that most students felt that the university’s decision to stop supporting rag week was an “overreaction.” Ms O’Dwyer said that while she understood that there is a “problem to be dealt with… there are some people that do get out of hand but I think there’s better ways of dealing with that then to try and ban the whole event. You don’t ban the event, you deal with the troublemakers.”
Ms O’Dwyer acknowledged that appoximately 40 arrests were made during the week but stated that “we don’t know whether they were students of this college or if they’re students at all but there were a lot of complaints coming into the university which I think is what pushed [the decision]”.
While rag week is run by the SU, the university allocates spaces on campus for the week’s events. No official decision has been made to stop holding rag week on campus but Ms O’Dwyer felt that changing that would only worsen the problems. “There is concern that if it does end up off campus, it would get completely worse because all the events that we run on campus are non-alcoholic and they’re taking away that option,” said Ms O’Dwyer.
The university stated that although they were no longer supporting the event, they would continue to “support students in their efforts to fundraise for charity and will work with the SU to ensure that this positive aspect of University life is not lost.”
They claimed to have written to publicans, club owners and off-license premises on two occasions in the past year seeking co-operate. However, they claimed that a number of clubs failed to do so and ran events during the week outside of regular nightclub hours. The university apologised to residents of Galway City who “experienced disruption or distress as a result of student activities” during the week.
Ms O’Dwyer said that despite the university’s decision, rag week would be continued in future years. The funds raised from rag week are being donated to the Galway rape crisis centre, CD’s Helping Hands, L’Arche and the Belarus Orphanage project.