St Anne’s students are being encouraged to give up alcohol throughout January to raise money for cancer research, building on the success of the college’s ‘Movember’ challenge last term, where 38 students raised £1,414.
The college’s JCR has contributed £50 toward prizes for the students who raise the most money through sponsorship.
The welfare reps at St Anne’s hope the scheme will raise thousands. One of the organisers, Isra Hale, told Cherwell, “If we could get a dozen people to sign up we’d be happy. When term starts and people are back in college, we’ll push to get students to try it for the first two weeks – show them that alcohol isn’t always necessary to have a good time.”
The Dryathlon, organised by Cancer Research UK, is a national fundraising campaign that started this year. Each ‘Dryathlete’ must take an oath, a “commitment to a month without alcohol, in the true spirit of do-gooding, for the glory of ‘Dryathletes’ and the honour of Cancer Research UK.” Participants then encourage their friends to sponsor them. A spokesperson from Dryathlon said that over 30,000 people are taking part, and each should raise around £100. Over 80 per cent of the money raised goes directly to research, with the rest funding Cancer Research’s campaigns and administration.
JCR President Oscar Boyd explained his college’s commitment to the Dryathlon: “St Anne’s JCR has a strong belief in supporting charities, and if fundraising can occur in a way that is both fun and beneficial, it would seem a wasted opportunity not to support a great charity such as Cancer Research UK.”
As well as raising money, the college welfare team wants to raise awareness about the health risks of alcohol. Hale stated, “When I first read about the project, I realised it could help raise awareness about drinking – apparently 65 per cent of university students are binge drinkers.
“Deaths from liver disease among under-65s in the UK rose 20 per cent in the past decade, while falling elsewhere in Europe. If students could learn to just reduce consumption, we could reduce the number of alcohol-related deaths.”
According to St Anne’s welfare reps, 12,500 students die of alcohol-related cancers every year.
The Dryathlon website states, “alcohol is linked to a variety of diseases, including cancer, as well as accidents and injuries”, and many people take part in the challenge for health reasons. According to Cancer Research UK, a causal link has been found between alcohol and seven types of cancer.
An Oxford University spokesperson expressed its support, telling Cherwell, “The university is very fortunate to have a student body that is so active in fundraising and volunteering.”
Toby Huelin, a second-year music student from St Anne’s, said, “I think it’s a great idea. I’m surprised more colleges don’t run it – it’s the new ‘Movember’!”