This week, Sligo follows suit and takes part in the age-old tradition of RAG week whereby students gather to donate their time and effort to needy causes. That is, if the time is donated to shifting competitions and the needy cause is that weird guy from your English seminar. Instead of raising a grand for local charities, it now seems that vandalism and regurgitation are the main items on the agenda.
Before I start sounding self-righteous, I must admit that I was gleeful with anticipation for my first RAG week and outraged at its subsequent cancellation in NUIG. I bought the naggins of cheapest vodka, I took naps in nightclub bathrooms and plummeted ungracefully to the ground. (In my defence, the cobbles of Shop Street are partly to blame).
After first year however, the shine begins to wear off. You are no longer the newbie excited for their initiation, but the final year student grudgingly resigning themselves to a lost week for the sake of keeping up appearances. I invited strangers into my home and allowed them to upend my furniture, urinate on my floor and eventually warrant a Garda callout, threatening ASBOs for our culpability. The point is, we don’t always participate because it’s great craic, but because we have no other choice. Being a ‘dry shite’ is not an option, unless we want to resemble Will from The Inbetweeners.
Don’t get me wrong; I had countless enjoyable nights with good friends. Crazy stories and drunk dance moves were great, but the best night was probably when my roommate and I left the nightclub queue to get sausage rolls and sneak home.
For me, the nail in the coffin was the one morning I actually ventured into college, to join the tumbleweed in the lecture hall. I sidestepped numerous students passed out on the pavement and stumbling around like extras from Dawn of the Dead. Something that might seem hilarious on a dancefloor was entirely different in broad daylight and put me off the week-long debauchery.
Last Tuesday, NUIG students queued to enter a pub at 10.30 a.m. Unless I am prematurely senescent and drinking before noon is now commonplace, I can only assume this was some form of mob mentality. For seasoned sippers and teetotallers alike, the peer pressure to binge drink is severe. Similar to last year’s NekNominations craze, it seems that somebody will have to die from alcohol poisoning before the unofficial celebrations cease.
I’m not saying that RAG week has no place in college life, nor do I wish to deprive students of a rite of passage. In some ways, I think mistakes have to be made in your teens while full dignity has yet to be earned. Just try not to be too inebriated, don’t walk home alone and once the hangovers start to stretch into Day Two, it’s time to leave Club S’macs to the first years.