RAG brings out the charity spirit

Events a success but more need to get involved, says Ben Toone

It’s inspiring to see the lengths people will go to for good causes, and RAG week highlighted this magnificently. From the conventional bar events, to the utterly barmy and downright cruel, students threw themselves into the charity spirit. The RAG parade showed locals and bemused tourists that students do care about their adopted community, with much of the money raised going to York based charities.

Although I was more of a bystander (moonlighting for URY as part of the new street-party element to the parade) the sheer enthusiasm couldn’t fail to impress. However, despite the huge success and great turnout I couldn’t help wondering why more students weren’t there. How representative was a turnout of 10-30 people per college? How many more stayed at home? How many more are missing out?

To confess, this year’s RAG parade was my first, and in my previous three years at York I had hardly noticed RAG week. Yet when I did get involved the experience was amazing. Hitching to Dublin, sky diving, even speed dating. Having fun yet helping good causes. The feel good factor is hard to beat.

So why don’t more people get involved? Apathy with the Students’ Union is well known, most students’ contact may well be restricted to mentions within this paper or the odd Revolver event. It may well be that apathy towards RAG stems from this. More likely it’s the feeling of lack of time, breaking into perceived cliques, or believing it’s difficult to be involved. Yes, our primary aim at university should be to get a degree at as high a grade as possible, but getting involved needn’t take up huge amounts of time.

It’s the old cliché but your time flies here at York. Three years will go so quickly, so it’s important to jump on opportunities whilst you can. Volunteering, either by fundraising with RAG, YSCA, Millennium Awards or other ways can be one of the most rewarding experiences during your degree. At no other time will there be so many opportunities and like-minded people in one place. I can put hand on heart and say my week’s stint for Kids Camp was one of the best weeks I have had since being at University. Volunteering also looks great on the CV. So get out of your comfort-zone and get involved, even if you do one thing, you’ll be surprised at how good it feels.

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