The UCCSU Student Community Support Group was once again out on the streets aiding students during Raise and Give Week in UCC. This year the group expanded its engagement with students through a number of measures. Firstly, they added two additional routes to their patrol, allowing them to aid and engage with more students than in previous years. Secondly, for the first time ever, they took advantage of satellite walkie talkies to keep in contact with one another to increase their effectiveness, and thirdly the St. John’s ambulance service was available to aid students for every night of Raise and Give Week. Almost 30 additional SCS members were deployed during Raise and Give week to aid students and to help mitigate problems. The SCS were also briefed by the Gardaí prior to Raise and Give week as part of their preparations.
The SCS reported an overall decrease in the number of alcohol related incidents, with the SCS providing students with gluten free bread to help them to sober up. The SCS did highlight that there was a significant increase in the number of drug related incidents throughout the week. To help combat this the SCS and the Students Union ran a drug awareness campaign on social media, and also put up flyers and posters in Bars, nightclubs and in bathrooms aimed at drug harm prevention. Furthermore, on the Tuesday of RAG week the UCCSU, after reports from both the SCS and students, sent out a drug warning to all students after a number of incidents occurred where students were consuming dangerous drugs that had been mixed or laced with other substances.
The SCS noted a significant increase in the amount of engagement with students, noting that some, but not all, were more willing to engage and cooperate with the SCS and emergency services. The SCS team handed out over 350 pairs of pink slippers and over 100 condoms, an indication there was a greater degree of awareness among students as to who the SCS were and the services they were providing to students. The SCS also reported collecting over 45 bags of rubbish each night to help minimise disruption to local residents.
There were other issues however, such as the Gardaí being much stricter in policing this year, with a number of arrests and fines being meted out to students who were in breach of the rules. The Gardaí also operated a zero-tolerance policy with regard to larger house parties, with Monday and Wednesday being the busiest nights of the week. It was also reported that there was a considerable number of non-UCC students out during RAG week.
The SCS did note several positives from the week however, in particular a 58% decrease in the number of complaints made to the SCS, but this does not include complaints made to the University or to others, however. They also noted the huge benefit of the St. John’s ambulance, which took some of the burden off of the national ambulance service by transporting students to the Mercy hospital and by dealing with more minor injuries and incidents themselves. Above all, however the SCS was pleased with the increased awareness from students of the SCS and their willingness to cooperate with them.
For any queries or for students who may wish to get involved in the SCS in future may contact the UCCSU Deputy President on Kate@uccsu.ie