On Saturday night I went to Sitara. It’s the first fashion show I’ve been to in St Andrews as I’ve always been a bit unsure of spending an evening watching fellow students walk up and down a stage in endless different outfits.
But Sitara proved to be a glorious break in the monotony of wellies and Barbour jackets that we take for fash- ion in St Andrews. It was a fantastic show in that it wasn’t just about the fashion, but about displaying a wide range of student talent – dance, music, and the story of Diwali in scenes acted throughout the show.
The hundreds of hours of work put into the event by so many students were obvious: a great example of why I am always so impressed by the endless ambition and talent of students at St Andrews.
What I was not impressed by, however, was the utter lack of respect shown by some of the crowd watching. Moments that particularly disgusted me included the guy who tipped an entire bottle of wine across the stage; the smashed glasses where the shoe- less models were walking; the people who threw plastic candles from the set at the DJs; the guy who grabbed the crotch of one of the male mod- els; and the endless stroking of the models’ legs and feet. They are better women than me by resisting the urge to kick the boys in the face with their stilettos. And then there was the unacceptable groping and grabbing. Forget personal space, forget respect. Members of the crowd were behaving like animals.
I’ve spent a lot of this week thinking about respect, because we have started discussions with the University about next year’s Raisin Weekend. As you know from the proctor’s email, this year was our last chance to show we could have Raisin Weekend without screwing things up. That is, without embarrassing ourselves and behaving badly.
Unfortunately the statistics we have are unacceptable. 59 students were so drunk they had to be literally cleaned off the streets. 16 students received fixed-penalty tickets from the police for various bad behaviour. And then there were the 12 injured students who required medical attention and the four reported instances of verbal and physical abuse against staff who work a 20-hour day on Raisin Sunday to make sure students are safe.
We live in a tiny town off the north-east coast of Fife. Students make up about half the town’s population, but we most certainly do not ‘own the town’.
Yet during Raisin Weekend some people think it is acceptable to get dangerously drunk and pass out in the street at 10am on a Sunday morning; hold scavenger hunts in the centre of town while families and the elderly try to do their weekly shopping in peace; and generally behaving like thoughtless animals.
What annoys me the most is that the majority of students didn’t behave badly. They had a Raisin in which they celebrated with their academic families responsibly, without imposing on others. Instead a relatively small number of students have risked ruining the Raisin Weekend tradition for everyone else.
I and the Students’ Association are going to work extremely hard over the coming weeks with the University and the incoming sabbatical officers to make sure we have Raisin next year and that it is as safe and non-invasive as possible.
But I don’t know what to do about the biggest problem: the utter lack of respect by some students.