The success of the RAG Society poses questions for the SU

The success of the Raising & Giving (RAG) Society poses serious questions for DCU Students’ Union. The society which was founded in DCU in 2011 has since become a mini-movement with other societies established within the University of Limerick, IT Tralee and the DCU constituent college, Mater Dei over the past two years.

The main objective of the society is to get students involved in a fun and vibrant fashion in raising awareness and monies for charitable causes. In its founding year in DCU the society and its organisers were shown to be resourceful and innovative. Its first outing at a Clubs & Socs Day saw it gain over 600 members, an unheard of figure for a new society. It hosted innovative events on campus such as the ‘Underwear Mile’ and the ‘Rag Rumble’ which saw large interest and participation from students. Thousands of euros were raised at each event and DCU RAG Soc won Best New Society at the national society awards, the BICS.

The triumph of the RAG society is in contrast to the continuing decline of the annual SU RAG Week. Despite RAG Week’s aim to raise money for the SU’s chosen charities, the cost of hosting the events are often more than is actually raised. This leads to the bizarre conclusion that the SU would be better off donating a large sum of money to its charities and cancelling rather than holding its RAG Week. Yet the RAG Society doesn’t seem to have this problem and the cost of holding its events are often a fraction of the money it ends up raising.

The issue of why RAG Society flies and the SU RAG Week fails needs to be discussed.

There are a number of possible reasons, although the success of RAG Society seems to lie with the level of commitment from its volunteering members and the drive of its committee leaders. The society also uses a grassroots model for its events and this is a key factor.

The involvement of RAG’s members at all levels of organising and hosting any given event is vital. They empower their members by delegating responsibility and motivating them to see the event is a success. This attitude towards event organisation isn’t present within the SU, where events are often decided and organised by the Office of Society Life Staff, the SU Executive and a few active students within societies. It’s a top-down as opposed to a bottom-up approach.

The prospect of a merger of DCU with St. Pats, All Hallows and Mater Dei into one university will see a much larger union that will have to provide for a much larger student populous on multiple campuses. This poses a real challenge to the SU and the top-down model needs to change. The grassroots model that the RAG Society so effectively utilises needs to be at the centre of future event planning within DCU SU.

Sean Cassidy is The College View Opinions Editor and is a former student activist within the DCU Students’ Union and DCU Societies.

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