BEYERS DE VOS
Rag could cancel UP Beats within the next few weeks.
UP Beats is the music festival traditionally hosted on Rag Farm to kick off the start of Rag weekend.
This would be the biggest in a string of changes set to be made by Rag over the next few months after a set of workshops earlier in the year aimed at identifying the problems that have recently been plaguing the charity organisation.
According to Dr Rina Wilken, Rag’s acting manager and the Coordinator of Special Programmes with UP’s Department of Student Development, the decision is still pending and has not been finalised, but is very likely. “We are strongly considering getting rid of UP Beats,” she said.
However, Gebrand Lindeque, the Vice President of the SRC, denies the change, telling Perdeby that Rag is merely investigating the possibility of changing the date of the festival.
There will be no change to the other big Rag weekend activity, the Rag procession. Dr Wilken stresses that there is a strong desire from the student body to see the procession proceed, but that there would be a bigger emphasis on recyclable floats during the procession next year. There will also be little change to the debutante programme (from which the Rag queen is chosen). This despite the fact that both the procession and the debutant programme made a financial loss in both 2011 and 2010. How the push by the Department of Residence Affairs to suspend the Res of the Year competition will affect the procession (which is a component of that competition), is still unclear. “The decision has been made to keep the [Res of the Year] award next year, so we haven’t reached that catch-22 yet,” says Dr Wilken.
Other changes include revamping their annual Spring Day event (which was cancelled last year, sparking a protest on campus) line-up to include artists that cater to all students, and not just specific segments of the student body. “Spring Day is a big event on every student’s annual social calendar and it was very important to both Rag and the SRC to provide students with the opportunity to flourish on both an academic and a social level,” said Lindeque.
The main problems facing Rag according to findings presented at the workshops are financial. Over the previous year, Rag made approximately R1,3 million, of which they spent R422 033 on events and R700 866 was given to charity. However, according to the UP Department of Finance, Rag is only giving an average of 30% of its profits to charity, when the industry average for welfare organisations should be 60%. The workshop indentified a lack of accountability as one of the main reasons for these financial problems.
The workshops also concluded that, in general, Rag culture places too much emphasis on partying and has lost focus of the community development initiatives which is meant to be at the core of the organisation.
According to Rag chairperson, Rag will therefore make a concerted effort to refocus its charity efforts and become much more involved with community engagement projects. Rag will so begin targeting their charity efforts more specifically at students and the community immediately surrounding campus. “There will be a shift to the student community. We want to help our own students. We want to properly identify students in need,” adds Dr Wilken.