Cambridge Companion to: RAG Week

Cambridge Companion to…RAG Week.

blind date Cambridge carnival Jailbreak Konnie Huq Oxford president rag raids RAG week save the children

Read on to discover how ragging the charity sector might bag you a wife, place you shoulder to shoulder with Konnie Huq, or get you shimmying on a podium, dressed as a lavatory.

Step 1: Fact up

– Cambridge RAG Week 2011 begins on 5th March- click here for full listings of RAG-week events.

– This year, RAG Week proceeds will go to Save the Children.

– The committee is active throughout the year, with the two biggest events in the Cambridge RAG calendar including Jailbreak (28th January) and RAG Blind Date (8th February).

–  The RAG team also organise year-round ‘raids’, which see them taking to the streets to shake buckets in a suggestive fashion and encourage passers-by to donate their spare change.

– ‘Megaraids’ occur when the suggestive bucket-shakers descend on a town other than Cambridge.

– The RAG team make two week-long tours a year: one at Christmas, and another at Easter, visiting a different city each day.

– Cambridge isn’t the only university to run a RAG committee: the idea has been taken on by universities around the country with great success. Last year, Nottingham University raised over £1 million through RAG events.

Step 2: Know your acronym

Turns out nobody is completely sure what ‘RAG’ actually stands for. Between ‘raise and give’, ‘raise a grand’ and the OED’s conceit that the term is derived from ‘an extensive display of noisy disorderly conduct, carried on in defiance of authority or discipline’, the gist and nub of it all is that RAG means getting lots of money together in a boisterous manner.

Step 3: Take inspiration from RAGs of yore

Bet you didn’t know that Konnie Huq was RAG co-ordinator during her second year, did ya? Sure, you probably don’t want to model yourself on such a tooth-grindingly irksome ex-Blue Peter presenter, but take a leaf out of the Robinson Cantab’s book and get involved. You might end up on the telly. Or inexplicably married to a man who makes his living by making disproportionate rage seem hilarious.

Tellingly, Konnie’s abiding memory of RAG Week involves simply ‘a game of assassin in college’, but don’t take tips from such a terrible bore: why not consider the ‘Rag Blag’ (everyone is issued with a pen, and has 2 weeks to swap it for something better to be auctioned off at the end. One guy got a car with his: pretty good), or a sponsored shearing, instead?

Step 4: Be silly

The Cambridge admissions website attempts to lure in potential applicants with promises of RAG’s ‘fun’ and ‘outrageous’ capers, which see students put themselves in ‘wacky’ and ‘unusual’ positions in the name of charity.

Zany behaviour is the order of the day: just behave in any way that will find its place next to ‘nutty’ in the thesaurus, and you’re on the right track. Dress up as a giant baby, wear a mankini, sport a false moustache- you get the picture.

Step 5: ARRIBA

The carnival is one of the main events during RAG week, and this year it is on Saturday 6th March. Again, it’s time to put on your krazy kap and get creative with your costume- Carnival ’04 featured a ‘human toilet’ (not sure what that entails, but it does sound potentially unhygienic). Making its way through the city centre, the procession will consist of floats from the colleges, some local school kids, a variety of music and, of course, the bucket-shakers.

With University members often accused of setting up a ‘gownie versus townie’ divide, the carnival gives Cambridge residents the chance to reassess their opinions on annoying students by presenting them on platforms, dressed as pantomime horses and French maids, demanding locals’ money.

Step 6: Get paid for charity

Feeling slightly wrong, like fancying your DoS or farting in church, this concept can be legitimately applied to RAG: it is possible to get earn money for getting involved with the cause. Applications for the only paid position, the President, open ‘some time in mid-Lent’, with elections at the end of term. Be warned though: there’s more to Prez than getting paid.

The current President, Emma Cooper, explains that the role: “involves manning the office, organising the sub-committees and liasing with charities. The job requires organisation, time management and the ability to work as part of a large team…” It’s not one for money-hungry slackers, in other words.

If you’re interested in running, email Emma, for more information: [email protected]

Step 7: Be a Caius, not a Magdalene

Some colleges are better than others when it comes to raising money. In 2004, it was reported that Magdalene raised just £142 for RAG: less than the price of their May Ball tickets for that year. Caius, however, managed £22 000. Stingy Magdalene argued that their weak effort was down to poor organisation and publicity at college level, and it is true that RAG is more active and prominent within certain colleges.

Step 8: Get involved

If it’s all a bit quiet RAG-wise at your college, then why not do something about it? It is easy to get involved- just contact the RAG committee via [email protected], or talk to your current college rep- there is a list on the Cambridge RAG website. Join the RAG mailing list by emailing [email protected], or to be involved at a more fundamental level, you could always run for Chair, Secretary or Treasurer – elections take place this term.

A final thought:

We beat Oxford in the boat race last year. We also raised double their effort for RAG week. That is all.

For more information, click here.