University rag week scrapped but at cost of €60,000
THE authorities at NUI Galway have finally succeeded in getting the students' union to scrap the notorious rag week -- at a cost of €60,000.
University management have agreed to increase the annual contribution to a student hardship fund from €33,000 last year to €93,000 this year and in future years.
The measure was key to bringing an end to the week of high jinks which had turned into a nightmare for city centre residents and others living in the immediate vicinity of the university in recent years.
In March of this year, there were more than 30 arrests of students following four days of public order complaints surrounding a series of alcohol-fuelled incidents.
Similar numbers were arrested in recent years as students also engaged in dangerous and risque activities, including jumping from city centre bridges and male and female students running naked through a local estate and parts of the university.
The students' union at NUIG insisted that the trouble was mainly caused by students from other parts of the country who arrived in Galway to "cut loose". The students' union also pointed to money raised during rag week-- an average of €22,000 in recent years -- which went to charity.
Following negotiations between the university and the students' union in recent weeks, a series of proposals were put to class representatives on Monday. These included increasing the Student Assistance Fund from €33,000 to €93,000, a guarantee not to introduce charges at the Student Health Unit, agreement for a one-day concert/festival to replace rag week, abolition of a €2 gym fee and provision of more notice boards on campus.
The proposals were adopted by 107 votes to seven by the class representatives.
"The deal is good for the university, good for the students and good for the people of Galway who haven't been happy with rag week in the past.
"Students from outside NUIG were responsible in our view for tarnishing the image of NUIG during rag week on previous occasions," said students' union president Emmet Connolly.
Overall, the students' assistance fund will now amount to about €500,000 this year, with additional funding coming from the government and the European Social Fund.
The hardship fund allows students in financial difficulty receive help in order to remain in third-level education. It cannot be used to pay university fees or to pay off debt and mainly covers rent aid, shortfalls in living expenses and childcare.
Last year there were 1,000 applications from the 14,000 students at NUIG and the average payout was between €800 and €1,000. Closing date for applications for the current academic year is October 27.
In a statement, NUIG president Dr James Browne congratulated the union for its leadership and strongly welcomed the outcome of the vote.