Raisin Weekend is genuinely unique to St Andrews. No such combination of drinking, challenges, costumes and foam fights exists elsewhere. However, as the festivities approached, I encountered a new attitude towards our famed weekend: hesitancy. Not in the excited but hesitant way many of us approach our risk-taking university adventures. Not even the concerned enthusiasm of upperclassmen watching fresh-ers toe the line of fun and reckless. Many people I spoke to were disinterested, hesitant to participate in an event closely tied with people crossing the aforementioned line.
Why do we continue this tradition? The easy answer is that our community’s disinterested and hesitant members are a minority and not vocal about their views. The flip side of this is the hundreds of fresh-ers and second-years who poured into Lower College Lawn were excited about it. Despite the potential dangers of the weekend, their enthusiasm was palpable.
The dangers were nonetheless present but simply ignored. Those academic parents who themselves toed the line of human rights violations did so in the knowledge that “my parents did worse to me.” On the other hand, the academic children endured the various challenges confident that they were bonding with their siblings. A bond which I can attest can last years.
The University has distanced itself from the potentially dangerous activities of the weekend. Every year all students receive an email from the Proctor with safety advice and a reminder that breaking the law and university code of conduct will be punished. It may have been shocking to freshers reading that past students have been involved in “dangerous accidents” or “collected a criminal record.” I find it even more concerning that other students have become numb to these warnings.
The dangers aside, are we proud of Raisin Weekend? A series of events features little more than young adults acting like children under the influence of alcohol and the intoxicating fumes of shaving foam. This answer is more complex. We, as academic parents and children, are excited to share our experiences with our peers. Images of foam coated children occupied the St Andrews official and student social media for days. However, the ever-pres-ent concern remained, “There are reporters in town this weekend. Do you want to be on the front page looking like that?”
Would we place the images of costumed and intoxicated 17-20-year-olds on our LinkedIn profiles or CVs? The answer to this question is an obvious “No.” However, as we are constantly reminded, social media is an uncontrollable beast. Surely no one would post something that could ruin their futures, and yet we do.
Do not misinterpret my views; I love raisin and have enjoyed its festivities for three of my four years in town. However, the disinterested hesitancy of some students raises interesting and pressing questions about the future of Raisin.
When images of the foam fight were taken on film cameras and printed only for personal memories, our shenanigans were untainted by concerns over potential reputational damage. Unfortunately, those days have passed. Will St Andrews become a “check your phones at the door” town for Raisin Weekend? Or rath-er, will we embrace our traditions and wear them as a badge of pride?