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UCC Taking Hardline Approach To Anti Social Behaviour During RAG

UCC’s Raise & Give (RAG) Week has in the past brought negative attention to the university through disruptive behaviour, and this year UCC has told the Evening Echo that they will be taking a more “hardline approach”, namely introducing a number of initiatives to respond swiftly and decisively to students who are in breach of university rules.

This year’s RAG is taking place this week, Monday 12th to Friday 16th February 2018. The three charities that will benefit from funds raised during the week are Meningitis Research Foundation, Cork Friendly Call Centre and St. Vincent de Paul. Last year, over €40,000 was raised for charity. Both the Students’ Union and spokespersons for UCC have stressed that the primary goal of RAG Week is to raise and donate much needed funds to these charities, while partaking in fun and worthwhile events.

“Helping these deserving charities is a great goal and one which also reflects well on the UCC student body,” said the Head of Student Experience, Paul Moriarty, in an email to the student population. He stressed that “Raise & Give Week is a normal academic week, with a full load of lectures and tutorials timetabled.  It is expected that students will engage in Raise & Give events during this week around their lecture and tutorial timetable.”

“It is important to remember that, while it is more affectionately known as ‘RAG’ week, the purpose of the week is to raise money and then give it to charity; so get your spare change out or go onto our GoFundMe page and get your donations in so we can help the 3 extremely worthy charities,” said Kelly Coyle, Welfare Officer for the Students’ Union.

The Students’ Union and the University have introduced a number of measures to try to ensure that both the student and residential community in Cork enjoy the week. Moriarty emphasised that students should make themselves familiar with recent changes to the UCC Student Rules, which are available online at ucc.ie/en/students/policies. The email drew particular attention to the new provision that would see students fined a minimum of €50 for a breach of the Student Rules, with the money collected from fines going toward the student hardship fund. 

Other initiatives include streamlining Campus Watch process (an initial disciplinary process) to ensure early intervention, immediate escalation to Campus Watch Committee or Disciplinary Committee if the student does not accept responsibility, or if the level of misbehaviour warrants this, and introducing a campaign known as R&R (Respect and Responsibility) with the support of the Students’ Union. This is to promote the notion that, while R&R (Rest & Recreation) is encouraged, it needs to be balanced by respect for self and for residents, and students must take responsibility for their behaviour.

A spokesperson for UCC said: “Last summer a new Student Residential Services and Community Relations Office was set up to work closely with Community Gardaí, local resident groups and the wider community.  The new Community Relations Officer attends resident association meetings and acts as a conduit between UCC and our neighbours, and is responsible for Campus Watch, in particular the administration of informal and formal resolution procedures.” Other initiatives involve developing relations and providing positive services to our neighbours as well as alerting them to the many positive contributions our students make to society.

UCC President Patrick O’Shea hopes to ease the worries of residents near the university through the introduction of these new measures. Head of Community Policing, Sergeant Stewart Philpott, told the Evening Echo: “UCC is tightening the rules around students in houses. They are being made more answerable to the college.

“They seem to be taking a more hardline approach. The new President, Patrick O’Shea, is very much of the community, and he believes the college shouldn’t be causing trouble.”

Welfare Officer Coyle asked that students remain respectful of others living in the area, saying that “what we ask you all to remember is that, while you are having a great week of raising and giving and everything else that goes along with it, please be considerate of your neighbours and your fellow students who are not going out during the week. Keep the noise levels down, keep the house parties to a minimum and, most of all, please keep all bins in an upright position. Although shocking to hear, your neighbours do not want to hear your rendition of ‘Cascada – Everytime We Touch’ at 5am, so please be respectful. Don’t put yourself in a position of having a  €50 fine for anti-social behaviour and, most importantly donate to charity.”

In his email, Mr. Moriarty commended the successful work of the Student Community Support (SCS) over the last few years, and reminded students they will operate again this year to assist the maintenance of a positive relationship with the local residential community. He called for students to respect the members of the SCS as they work day and night this week to reduce anti-social behaviour, and to be mindful of the university’s high standards of conduct for students. He cautioned students that, while RAG week is an important part of the student calendar, it should be enjoyed “in the right spirit.” Gardaí will have a very visible presence around UCC during the week, and will operate a zero tolerance policy with regards to anti-social behaviour. Moriarty reminded students of the significant consequences for anyone found breaking the law, including possible restrictions on future travel to the US, and also drew attention to the university’s intensive use of CCTV cameras during the week.