An early start, an empty bucket, a dodgy fancy dress outfit and a randomly picked city, finished off with a few cups of lash and that warm, fuzzy feeling of selfless, charitable pride. Nottingham RAG raids were an insanely effective (AND fun) way of raising money for charity; the definition of ‘effective’ being that time a single RAG raid in 2014 raised £66,552.72 for the Poppy Appeal.
Combined with the cancelling of the 7-Legged bar crawl, there seems to be an increasing number of nails appearing in the Karnival coffin lid. This all, however, seems to be happening regardless of the staggering amounts of money the organisation has raised and, as a result, the extensive number of individuals that have undoubtedly benefited from such sizeable fundraising.
“Crushing one of the main sources of charitable income”
The University of Nottingham Students’ Union (UoNSU) has put the recent banning down to “breaches to the safeguarding and health and safety policies and the potential risks”. Yes, admittedly, the SU has a responsibility to act in all students’ best interests (and not make too many controversial headlines for itself, of course), but where in this decision is the realisation that by banning RAG raids you are also simultaneously crushing one of the main sources of charitable income made by Karnival?
Without RAGs, or a fairly outstanding replacement for RAGs, it’s doubtful that the University of Nottingham will still be able to claim to be home to the student-run charity that’s “the largest one of its kind in Europe”. Maybe it’s just me, but the byline “a student-run charity that used-to-be-the-largest-but-not-anymore one of its kind in Europe” just doesn’t ring out as impressive.
Using the excuse of there being “potential risks” in RAG raids also just seems rather far-fetched. When celebrities start swimming the Thames or abseiling down the BT Tower all in the name of charity do we sit at home wishing they wouldn’t because of the ‘potential risks’, or are we inspired to follow in their footsteps? And yet, when a student (aka a fully-grown adult) decides for themselves to go on a RAG raid to do their bit for a charity, suddenly this is no longer an option. Surely the risks posed on a RAG stand insignificant next to some of the more outlandish methods of charity fundraising?
“Perfect combination needed for meeting and making new friends”
Alongside the amazing charitable benefits are the invaluable social advantages associated with being a ‘fresher’ and going on a RAG raid. For the majority of us starting at Nottingham, the first term is paired with that constant underlying worry that you won’t make any friends. RAG raids provided an easy cure for such worries.
Somehow, raising money for a day in a new city with complete strangers followed by an inevitably crazy RAG bus journey home is the perfect combination needed for meeting and making new friends. Without a doubt, if you went on a RAG raid you inevitably made a new friend and are probably still friends with them now. All in all, such priceless social gains combined with the sweet satisfaction of helping a charity made for some of the best Saturdays any student could ask for.
In light of the recent banning, the Karnival Executive Committee have claimed that they plan to develop “a more sustainable model”, one that will “engage more students than ever”. Ignoring the fact that their wording makes it sound like they’re trying to make Karnival more environmentally friendly, in all honesty, these claims seem somewhat half-hearted. Without RAG raids or 7-Legged it is questionable if their aim to “engage more students than ever” is actually realistic. What’s more, if these two methods of fundraising are no longer acceptable, what is the likelihood that any other similarly effective ideas will be permitted as a replacement?
“The process is extremely unjust”
However, despite all of the above, the individuals that my sympathy lies with most is the Karnival reps affected by this decision. For past reps, an event that they put enormous amounts of time and effort into is ceasing to exist; for them to feel outright betrayed and underappreciated is more than justified. Furthermore, for the newly made reps this recent decision has changed a vital component of what they signed up for and to be told so late in the process is extremely unjust.
As reps, the whole structure of the organisation they pour their passion into is being deconstructed and destroyed – to say they’re angry is the biggest understatement going.
To believe that Karnival can come back from the banning of RAGs seems dubious. Perhaps this is a pessimist’s opinion, but what is a pessimist, but someone merely telling the truth prematurely. Admittedly, improvements to RAG raids are needed; an organisation as impressive as Karnival surely deserve the chance to enact these enhancements. Karnival needs RAG raids, and their banning is a choice that will undoubtedly go regretted.
Image via the Karnival Facebook Page.