“Foolish and dangerous” drinking craze continues

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Oxford University, OUSU, and college deans have condemned the drinking craze NekNominate, after the number of students participating increased.

a University spokesperson said of NekNominate, “The University encourages students who consume alcohol to do so responsibly. It is difficult to imagine that drinking large quantities of alcohol in such a short space of time could fall within any definition of responsible drinking.”

Tom Rutland, the current OUSU President, was similarly negative about the proliferation of NekNominate videos, commenting that, “‘The NekNominate craze is foolish and dangerous. Downing a pint or more of spirits, as just one example of the videos I’ve seen, is extremely dangerous and has lead to serious harm and even deaths. I think that the vast majority of Oxford students recognise the idiocy of the craze and I’ve seen a couple of amusing, ironic takes on it.”

Various students pre-eminent in Oxford societies have also been drawn into the craze. Union president-elect Ben Sullivan uploaded a video of himself downing a pint of beer and port on to Facebook, and former LMH JCR President Fergus Imrie also polished off a pint of beer in rapid time for his video.

Over the past two weeks, NekNominate stunts around Oxford have escalated. One student who wishes to remain anonymous recorded himself finishing a pint whilst defecating on the Quad of Downing College Cambridge; another third year student stripped to his boxers and drank a pint outside the Radcliffe Camera. One student who did not wish to drink alcohol drank his own semen when fulfilling his NekNomination.

In Keble College, NekNominations took place in the college library and chapel. The Dean of Keble College told Cherwell, “The college is very concerned about the potential for physical harm resulting from NekNomination, in particular because of the coercion to consume alcohol. This behaviour is very strongly discouraged and both the JCR and MCR have been helping to spread the word about the dangers associated with this trend.”

Likewise, Jamie Wells, the OUSU Health and Welfare rep, stressed his condemnation of the trend and encouraged students who had been nominated to think carefully before partaking, “‘We realise the potentially harmful effect of viral crazes like neknominate and encourage all students to act responsibly in their consumption of alcohol. There is no harm in ignoring a ‘nomination’, as many people already do, and students should not feel under pressure to make one of these videos.”

George Greenwood, a third year at Christ Church who took part in the craze, took a more positive approach: “I think that generally NekNomination is an entertaining form of fun among friends, if treated sensibly. However, as we have seen in some tragic cases, social pressure and laddish one-upmanship can encourage some to dangerously abuse alcohol, and Tom is right to raise this issue. The best NekNomination that I have seen does not involve alcohol at all, consisting of one of my friends failing miserably to down a litre of sparkling water. Quite frankly, watching someone drink a pint of vodka and then throw up in an underpass is a bit grim.”

One student at Christ Church who was filmed downing a pint of wine at the top of St Mary’s, said, “I really think NekNominations are pretty harmless compared to the vast majority of drinking games. Unlike most drinking games, your nomination is only over the internet, so there is far less immediate peer pressure than there is if you are at a party/crewdate and asked to down shot after shot. You also have 24 hours to decide whether you want to participate or not, so you’ve got plenty of time to think it over.

Recent days have seen a new trend based on NekNominate emerge, where people are nominated to do a random act of kindness. Known as RAKNominate, it has proved a popular alternative. Acts vary from giving scouts a bunch of flowers to giving food to homeless people on the streets of Oxford. Megan, a first year student at Regent’s Park said of RAK Nominate, “It’s a force for good in a world ruined by laddish culture and binge drinking, epitomised by NekNominate.”

Morgan Harries, a first year English student, agreed with criticism of the fad. She told Cherwell, “I think NekNominate is kind of lame. Drinking over the recommended weekly allowance is kind of lame.”

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