Over €30,000 was raised for charity during R&G Week 2013, a figure expected to rise further as the money is still being counted.
The money is being donated to Cork Penny Dinners, the Irish Guide Dogs for the Blind and Barretstown. This year’s R&G Week was the most successful UCC R&G Week ever – last year, €24,000 was raised for charity, in 2011 only €12,000 was raised and in 2010 costs were so high that the week raised no money for charities.
“We committed more to focusing on the charity side of things, stuff that was going to raise money, and tried to keep our costs as low as possible,” said SU President Eoghan Healy of this year’s R&G Week success. “I think people might have had more of an awareness of the charities this year – we started promoting it [R&G Week] a lot earlier.”
An increased focus on fundraising among UCC staff and local businesses also increased the money raised, as well as the large numbers of students with R&G Week collection buckets.
“One of the main reasons that the money was up actually was just people out collecting, we’d far more than any other year previously… the volume of them out there really boosted it,” Healy said.
Overall, night-time events proved the most profitable. The events in the Savoy were particularly popular and a large percentage of the door cut went to the R&G Week charities. Other popular events included the Iron Stomach competition held in the amphitheatre, the Naked Mile and Take Me Out, as well as the Hands Off My Car competition. The “What’s in the Box?” competition run by the Rowing Club was also popular. A mystery object was locked inside a metal container outside the Student Centre – it cost a euro to guess and the prize was an iPad. Clues were released every day and on Thursday, someone guessed correctly that the object was kangaroo testicles.
Arts student Dara Kennedy, who is blind, abseiled off the Kane building to raise funds for the Irish Guide Dogs for the Blind. The R&G Rat Race Challenge, organised by Healy and the SU, required teams of four to complete a list of hilarious challenges to win 4 corporate box tickets to a United V. Chelsea game. The event was a huge success and one of the participants described it as “the best sober fun he’d ever had in his life”.
Despite its charity focus, for many people R&G Week is still synonymous with excessive drinking and student “antics” which often receive bad publicity and complaints from Cork residents. This year was different, Healy explained. On Wednesday of R&G Week the Irish Examiner ran a story with the headline “Students praised for behaviour during Rag Week” – this praise came from the Gardaí.
“In the last five or six years, this is the best publicity it’s ever got,” Healy said. “That was one of the big plans this year, that we’d try and control it a lot better, that there’d be less anti-social behaviour. Last year and the year before, every morning the Cork radio stations were dominated by complaints… this year complaints were minimal.” By contrast, this year, NUI Galway’s R&G Week continued to spiral out of control since the university officially cancelled it in 2011.
“We didn’t organise anything on campus that could be seen negatively as encouraging drinking, there was no cheap drink promos,” Healy said. “This year we’d all agreed that we were going to make sure that UCC wouldn’t be in a position that they could try and cancel it because of anti-social behaviour. I was very happy with how it went.”