Rag Weeks

University and college Rag Weeks once had the reputation of being an outlet for the rebellious spirit of some young adults on first leaving home. The cover for student capers and parades was provided by charity fund-raising, but Rag Weeks did not always begin with that intention. It appears that there were nonsensical ‘battles’ between rival universities, but when serious injuries resulted, the charity angle was re-emphasised and Rag Weeks became more light-hearted from the 1950s onwards.

‘Ragging’ is behaving in a disorderly, mischievious fashion, but today’s much more sedate ‘R.A.G. Weeks’ have been turned into ‘Raising And Giving Weeks’. Presumably because this does not have the same allure of fun and high jinx, less money is raised because fewer students participate, but some universities stimulate competition between their various clubs and societies, to see who can raise the most.

Activities take place both on campus and in local streets, with prior permission, but unlike the raucous scene in the video below, they do not involve binge-drinking but comprise suitably priced sessions of pottery and yoga, for example, or selling secondhand clothes in a market. Online fund-raising is also utilised but is a far cry from Rag Weeks of old!

(Top image of Leeds University students ‘decorating’ a car in 1968: alh1 at Flickr.com / CC BY-ND 2.0)


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