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The last hell

Oslo, Norway
Writer: Synne Brekke

At the beginning of May, an extraordinary event takes place in Norway. Young people in red or blue outfits take charge over moral standards, and make their own rules for what is good and what is bad. I am not talking about city gangs or mafia problems. This is a larger group of people, and yet more harmless: kids graduating from Norwegian high schools.

I would assume that all countries have some sort of tradition in celebrating final exams, and I know that the so-called "last bell" is a popular variant among Russian graduates. The Norwegian variant is still somewhat different. Walking into a mall in May, you can find 19-year olds crawling around on the floor. Driving into a roundabout you can see youths sitting in the middle, having a nice quiet breakfast. Crossing a bridge in the middle of the night, if you normally do that, chances are that you will see naked youths running over it. These are not spontaneous actions caused by joy and relief over the 12 year-old school career soon to be over, but tasks in a game made up by the graduates themselves. The awards they are given for doing the tasks are small items that are put in the red or blue hats which are part of their graduating outfits.

At the end of an era as youths, and the beginning of an era as grown-ups, the so-called "russ" feel the urge to go back to behaving as kids again. If you ask a Norwegian what he or she thinks is typical for these "russ", they would probably say that they are owners of a "children's mind in a grown-up body".

Most of the tasks in the "russ" game, that lasts for about a month, and ends just before their first exam, are simple and innocent, such as buying a condom in a store using finger language, or kissing a police man. Still, there is a new emerging trend among small Groups of youth. This year the papers wrote about "russ" being awarded for raping younger students, or assaulting homosexuals.

We are concerned over the increase in amounts of alcohol combined with such ridiculous, sometimes dangerous, tasks, says Gunnar Dale, Director of Education in Hordaland County. He wants to set a higher standard for what the authorities can expect from the "russ", and suggested this year making concrete rules for all graduating students in Hordaland.

The "russ"-president of Oslo, Joakim Dyrdal, a "russ" himself, called on the young people not to make actions wearing the "russ"-costume that they wouldn't do wearing normal clothes. Unfortunately, not all youngsters are willing to listen to such mild propaganda. A lot of the "russ" act as if they owned the world for a month.
  -The authorities have no right to set limits for us, and decide what we are allowed to do, as long as our actions are legal, claim the "russ".

-If we want to make a fool out of ourselves, that's our problem, but also our choice. And no one can keep us from having a little fun. After all, I think we deserve to have some fun after 12 years of hard work at school.

Every year the same discussion comes up for schools And newspapers. And every year they find the same conclusion: this year, the "russ" are definitely worse than last year.

And the party continues

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