Charitable Feelings

Charitable Feelings

first_imgWhat do you have to do to become a ‘charitable’ Oxford student? Perhaps it’s easier to say what you don’t have to do. You don’t have to have a lot of spare time, climb mountains for breast cancer or make tea and coffee in a hostel. You don’t even have to spend a day in sponsored silence, three-legged agony or waving a bucket at random passers-by. If you happened to have strolled into Merton quad last Friday you would have been witness to the climax of Merton RAG Week: the custard vote. Members of the college voted throughout the week on who they wanted to pour buckets of custard over, the prime contenders being the JCR President, members of her exec, and the Chaplain. The charitable thing to do, of course, was to give money to watch others suffer the fate of cold custard. There is a myth that if we buy the Big Issue (and recycle it after we’ve read it), we have somehow become ‘a better person.’ But at Oxford, it is possible to redefine what it means to be charitable. Charity doesn’t have to be difficult.We all tend to ignore our dreaded bank statements and, irrespective of our charitable aims and high morals, most of us simply cannot afford to splash out on generous charity donations. You don’t have to have a smoking wallet however, as student charities such as RAG put emphasis on raising as well as giving – an ethos which paid off in £30,000 worth of charitable donations last year alone. A small lifestyle change can also go a long way. Having drunk a bottle of wine before hitting town in order to save on extortionate club drink prices, how many of us shrug our shoulders and walk past the Big Issue seller sitting by the cash point on the way to the Bridge? We tell ourselves that the £1.50 required for a Big Issue could contribute to a well needed pint or some cheesy chips whilst stumbling home. Realistically, if you bought the Big Issue instead of cheesy chips then the world would be a better place; you would both be making a charitable gesture as well as taking small steps to that supermodel waistline. You don’t have to be loaded to donate and have fun; the Entz rep at Merton was sold at a slave auction for the bargain price of two pounds. It is also true that we aren’t all lucky enough to have six weeks of our summer to give up to volunteering at a hospital in Africa or teaching at an orphanage in India. An occasional afternoon or evening a week for KEEN can nevertheless make a big difference to people’s lives. KEEN recruits student helpers from both Oxford and Oxford Brookes to help out with mentoring and sports coaching for children and young adults with special needs in Oxfordshire, and a session of volunteering is both rewarding and fun.Even sex can become charitable, with a fair-trade chocolate bar or a novelty RAG condom rose for Valentine’s Day. Speed dating, blind dating, crew dating and that romantic one-on-one with your significant other can all raise money for a good cause: a £5 Rendezvous ticket for Tuesday of sixth week will give you club entrance to Bar Risa and discounts of up to fifty percent off at loads of top Oxford restaurants.Sixth week of Hilary is Oxford’s RAG week and it provides the opportunity for everyone, even the laziest or poorest among us, to do something good for charity. There are events planned that should appeal to everyone; the fit among us can sprint a few laps of University Parks in the great RAG run. If that sounds too much like hard work, the less energetic could go to a film screening. Saturday night down the pub recycling old jokes could be swapped with a night of laughter at The Big Rag Comedy Night at St John’s. And if none of that appeals, then you could always bear witness to the ritual humiliation of your friends in ‘Mr & Miss Oxford’ at the Union on Wednesday night.We’ve all heard about ethical shopping – in fact we can’t escape from it. It seems virtually impossible to keep up with which high street chains use slave labour, which banks invest ethically, and which budget supermarket gives their battery chickens the best quality of life. Instead I propose a new concept – Ethical Clubbing. Eclectric at Love Bar on a Thursday donates a third of its profits to RAG charities, so it is possible to get that smug, feel-good charity feeling while drinking yourself into oblivion and throwing some dodgy shapes on a dance floor. Despite your pile of unwritten essays, and the fact that you promised your housemates you’d clean the kitchen, a night on the tiles with your student loan in tow would instantly make you a model citizen. And if VK ices and sweat isn’t your scene, then the Hands up for Darfur Fashion show in Trinity might be more up your street. The event in first week of Trinity hopes to exceed the staggering £50,000 total raised at last year’s Hands up for Darfur Ball, and looks to be one of Trinity’s hottest social events. Fashionably FAIR is also geared up to set the Oxford catwalk ablaze. Following in the footsteps of last year’s sell out event Fashionably RED, which raised £1500 for Aids and HIV charity Avert, the event in third week of Trinity is promoting and selling fair trade and ethical clothing.Whilst we can neither escape nor forget Mr Big Issue and his guilt inducing pleas, there are other ways to be a ‘good’ Oxford citizen. You don’t have to be six foot and gorgeous to get involved in a fashion show (always more of a spectator sport); public nudity can become instantly acceptable if you strip off and pose naked in a charity calendar (for the exhibitionists amongst you) and pulling that fit grad student in a charity kiss-o-gram is fun that won’t ruin your reputation on a bogsheet…The options are endless, so I urge people to get up and get involved. While being charitable can make someone a better person, it doesn’t have to make them boring… and it certainly doesn’t have to make them well behaved.last_img

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