EDUCATION chiefs at Scotland’s oldest university have threatened to withdraw their support for a traditional annual celebration due to “disgraceful” behaviour of students in previous years.
St Andrews University’s colourful Raisin Weekend is to take place this weekend, ending with the traditional foam fight in St Salvator’s Quad on Monday morning.
But in an e-mail sent to the entire student body yesterday, the university Proctor, Professor Lorna Milne, warned that the ancient university – where Prince William met Kate Middleton – will have “no alternative but to review its long-standing support of Raisin traditions” and “no option but to change the tone of Raisin Sunday forever”, if there are reports of anti-social behaviour at this year’s celebrations.
Branding 2012’s behaviour as “unacceptable”, Prof Milne hit out at a “minority of students” who she said were “disgustingly rude” and “aggressive or violent” due to too much alcohol.
Prof Milne said that so-called “academic parents” – usually third or fourth year students who have agreed to be mentors – needed to be aware of their responsibilities during the weekend.
She said: “While everyone has responsibility for their own actions, I would like to make it clear that academic parents and students who have been in the university for longer are expected to guide the academic children: if the university identifies any ‘parental’ encouragement of inappropriate behaviour, disciplinary action will follow.”
The e-mail ended with a stark warning: “If you do not follow this advice this year, not only will the university take disciplinary action against you wherever possible, but from 2014 we will have no option but to change the tone of Raisin Sunday forever.
“It is with great regret that I write in this language about a tradition that should be a source of fun for us all, and I know that the majority of students will conduct themselves sensibly.”
Last year, staff at the Fife university volunteered to join police in patrolling St Andrews to keep unruly students in check.
But despite the measures, students still caused havoc.
University staff will not assist police officers in patrolling the town this weekend due to verbal abuse their received from students last year.
Prof Milne said: “In recent years – and last year in particular – some students have stretched everyone’s patience too far on Raisin Sunday.”
No-one at the students association was available for comment. Raisin Weekend celebrations will begin on Sunday with freshers, who are known as “bejants” or “bejantines”, being taken for tea or on a pub crawl by older students.
In return, freshers traditionally present their “academic parents” with a pound of raisins – luxury fare in centuries past.
The tradition of giving raisins has evolved into the giving of wine and other drinks and, in exchange, the academic parents give their “offspring” a formal, often humorous, receipt in Latin.