YUSU’s annual RAG week had a controversial start on Sunday night, after committee members approaching Nouse revealed that their ‘Toga Party’ event had been poorly attended, and that students had also complained that it was “misleading” in its nature.
The RAG committee had planned to start their annual charity fundraising week by hosting the ‘World’s Largest Toga Party’ in Tru Nightclub. However, Nouse understands that when the event began, only five people had turned up.
Of these five, only two were members of the RAG committee, neither of which were organisers of the event. Joanne Clark, a member of the RAG week committee, said that she thought that eventually a “few hundred” were at the Toga Party, but she wasn’t sure. A second-year party goer, who wished to remain anonymous, claimed that in fact there were no more than a maximum of a hundred in the venue.
Students have also complained that the event was created under “false pretences”, which has lead to further controversy.
The current record for the World’s Largest Toga Party stands at 2,166. However, the venue Tru has a capacity of 800. As a result, the World Record could never be broken by RAG. It has been revealed that the committee also knew that the record couldn’t be broken a month ago when they were told that their original venue, 22 acres, was unsuitable.
Helen Fry, YUSU RAG officer, explained that with regards to the original venue “the University facilities management were strict with us, saying that the ground couldn’t hold that many people”. She continued to state that she “couldn’t remember” when exactly that they had been forced to change the venue, though it might have been “a month ago”.
After the seemingly futile change of location, the RAG committee continued to wrongly advertise the event as the ‘World’s Largest Toga Party’, leading to claims that party goers had been misled.
When told that the world record couldn’t be beaten, Jody Martin, a Halifax first-year who attended the Toga Party, commented that she felt “cheated”. She continued to say that it was “really quiet at the beginning” and that “no one was there.”
Martin continued: “More people came later – enough to justify not going to Sunday Night Gallery. But it wasn’t rammed. I feel a little bit cheated because it wasn’t ever possible to beat the record.”
In response, Clarke apologised to anyone who felt that they had been misled: “I’m sorry if people feel that they have been cheated. The intention was to have a good night. We could have cancelled the event at the last minute but had to think about the greater cause of charities.”
Rag Officer Helen Fry also issued the following statement: “We got the permission to do the world record attempt from Guinness World Records months ago. Simply getting permission to do that takes 4 months for them to process. We had to move off-campus because of the weather conditions this winter and the damage it would cause to the grounds on 22 acres. Probably fair enough really!
“We then figured it would be best to move off campus to avoid the difficulties and restrictions of planning events on campus. Tru kindly allowed us to work with them. Moving to an indoor venue needed approval from GWR. I’m sure you can imagine how long it takes for them to reply. Once we found we could not hold the capacity, we looked into using a number of venues at once. We then needed GWR to get back to us on that. It was not until all publicity had gone out and right before the event itself (not about a month ago) that we had to accept there were no feasible options. What a waste of charity money to take all the publicity back in and print more simply to rebrand it.
“We were also setting the groundwork for future, in the hope we can achieve a world record attempt another time.
“We hope that people had a good time, we are truly sorry if anyone feels ‘cheated’ and hope that people enjoyed the night. The RAG week girls Jo and Imogen have worked extremely hard, and this article is pretty deflating for them, as they really have put their heart and soul into putting on some great events in RAG week. Again, there were never any intentions to mislead anyone, the only intentions we have ever had are to put on some fun events, have a great week, as well as raise as much money as we can for our core charities.”