Town, Gown & Plant Pots


When Sue Marshall-Jennings posted in the Overheard in St Andrews Facebook group on Sunday, 20 November, it certainly wasn’t something that was overheard:

“Not so much overheard as me saying it out loud now—Seriously ashamed at so called raisin antics that involve placing a plant pot on the roundabout at West Port causing serious traffic hazard and drunk students trashing the plant tub that the Community Council just planted on Thursday.”

Not before long, the post was bombarded with comments. Sue’s post might certainly be considered inappropriate in a group that is meant for fun banter, however, it highlights the gap between town and gown and the comments have certainly made clear that not all who live in St Andrews enjoy the student life. Furthermore, the huge backlash (Sue, who could not be contacted at the time of going to press, got over 100 comments in the short period of time her post was on Facebook) shows that students are tired of being the ‘bad guys’ here; they just want the town to accept the fact that they just want to enjoy university life.

As a student here, I think what makes St Andrews special are the traditions.

It has become a widely accepted fact among University folk that students take this weekend to celebrate their official initiation into student life by participating in drunken antics – such as the ridiculous scavenger hunts that involve making human pyramids in the middle of the library, swapping clothes with a stranger and posing in the middle of Market Street. Perhaps the locals should begin to recognize and accept that, for the past 600 years, Raisin Weekend has been an important element of St Andrews culture and most likely will continue to be. As Katherine McWilliams commented on Sue’s post, “In all fairness, the students have been here for 600 years. I’m not saying the council should organize their lives and activities around student drinking but Raisin is one of our oldest and most special traditions and a bit of wiggle room for the weekend would be greatly appreciated by all the students.”

Despite the negativity and hostility that some locals may feel towards students, they should remember other positive things: that the students are the driving force behind the local economy and bring good business. In most cases, students do not set out to intentionally harm or disturb townsfolk, too. Students and locals are also extremely lucky that St Andrews happens to be a safe town.

Another commenter, Luke Jones, says, “If the worst thing to happen in St Andrews during the weekend where people drink the most is a smashed plantpot and a ‘killer’ plantpot then I’d personally take that as a huge success. Any university city and we may well be discussing assaults of worse.”

Perhaps we should all take things lightly. Students would appreciate it if locals were more nonchalant about the entire affair, and, although we should acknowledge that drunk students are responsible for their actions, perhaps we should relax and accept their reactions towards Raisin festivities (as Sue Marshall-Jennings suggested herself).


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