When you think of college Christmas Day you probably think of cracking an early morning can, Christmas jumpers, getting your Christmas dinner in the college bar and singing cheesy Christmas songs with your friends.
But the day isn’t all so merry. We conveniently forget about queueing for hours in the cold and the many safety hazards associated with such a huge crowd – and they’re usually so jam packed you don’t even see most of your friends anyway. Worse still, we forget about the effect the “charity fundraiser” is having on the non-student community.
While you can’t blame students for having a bit of fun, I think we can all (reluctantly) see that this can’t go on. Student unions realise this and have tried various different ways to let the students celebrate Christmas, to raise money for charity and to keep everyone safe. Fixing the problem is definitely better than simply cancelling the day.
NUI Galway RAG week is a perfect example of how cancelling these events does not work. NUIG RAG week has been “cancelled” since 2011. As a recent NUIG graduate, I can tell you Galway RAG week is going from strength to strength. Only now, its “unofficial”. Rather than students enjoying college events and raising money for charity, as well as a series of nights out, RAG week is only the nights out. And days out. It’s basically five days on the sesh, charities long forgotten about.
NUIG RAG week should be taken by college SUs as a guide of what not to do about future events.
Instead of cancelling events some colleges have been offering alternatives. The problem with some of these is that they are non-alcoholic alternatives. A lot of people either won’t go, or will excessively pre-drink with a hope to drink enough to last the night, and I think underage discos taught us all that this will often end in disaster!
I think it’s time that colleges accept that students are going to consume alcohol. Strictly non-alcoholic events are not going to work for most.
This year NUIG sold 550 tickets for Christmas day to avoid the queues, pushing and crowds of previous years. The ticket cost €5 and included a Christmas dinner. Maynooth University will have a series of events in their college bar spread over a week.
These are steps in the right direction. It’s so important to have an active campus life.Well organised events which cater to all students will not only benefit the students but the college’s reputation, charities and the wider community. Students might even eventually not have a bad reputation- although that’s probably wishful thinking.