People involved with RAG are always happy, or at least that’s what the campus stereotype says. Recently however, their smiles and enthusiasm have been for good reason. With the success of RAG week and events such as Woodstock and York Come Dancing, RAG has been riding high in recent months. Now, their beneficiary elections have record nominations, a testament to increased student interest in the charity and volunteering arm of the Student Union.
“In the past, people have often seen RAG as something of a clique, or as a society, which we’re not. Hopefully that is changing,” commented RAG Co-President Zoe Stones.
Each year, five charities are chosen from the many nominated to become RAG beneficiaries for twelve months. At the end of each year the proceeds are split equally between the five. Up until two years ago, the elections were closed, with only committee members able to vote.
Former Student Development and Charities Officers Joey Ellis changed this, opening the voting process to all students. Last year, 17 charities were nominated for the positions; this year the total doubled to 34 different organisations competing for the five highly-sought-after positions.
“The large number of nominations is a positive thing,” commented RAG Charities Liaison Officer, Nick Scarlett, who is responsible for organising the elections. “With such a range of charities nominated, it’s more likely that every student will find at least one or two they genuinely like or support.”
However, there have been comments that the large number of nominations is down to the recent ultra vires regulations affecting the Student Union that make it now illegal for any societies or sports teams to raise money for an organisation that is not RAG. The move has sparked some disappointment amongst students: “I have had some people telling me it is a shame they can no longer fundraise for charities that are close to their hearts,” commented York Sport President Emily Scott.
This year’s beneficiary elections have been extended to allow sports clubs and societies to put forward their charities of choice: “We’ve had around a dozen,” said Scarlett. There have been concerns, however, that nominations with the backing of an entire society could skew the results, leaving those put forward by individuals with a lesser chance of election.
Scarlett however, was keen to quell such fears:
“Having whole sports clubs and societies behind one charity could theoretically give them an advantage, but over a dozen societies have backed charities which dilutes this, as does the large number of voters not affiliated to such societies.” Both Scarlett and Stones felt the increase in nominations to be a positive move, bringing about a greater student participation within RAG itself.
“The presence of sports clubs and large societies such as Fusion in the nomination process will mean people who did not usually vote in the nomination process will get involved,” commented Scarlett.
Stones sees the ultra vires regulations as “a positive thing overall for campus fundraising. There are so many people at university who do such good work for fundraising, and now they can all be brought into one, university-wide push,” she said.
Voting opens in week two.