Nonprofit Party.0 Brings Sober Parties To College Students

By Kelly Burch 09/26/16

Party.0 is going on a national tour, bringing live music, DJs, and sober party games like skill pong and pizza flip cup to a campus near you. 

Nonprofit Party.0 Brings Sober Parties To College Students
Photo via Party.0

When you think of college parties, your first thought is probably alcohol. However, a new non-profit is aiming to change that by hosting top-notch sober parties that encourage students to let loose and have fun, without throwing back drinks. 

Party.0 organizes sober parties where students can’t resist having a good time. The parties look fairly similar to what you’d expect to find on a college campus, complete with a DJ, dancing and games like flip cup and beer pong.

Of course, some adjustments are made. Rather than beer pong, Party.0 attendees play "skill pong," a sober version of the game. Instead of chugging drinks during a game of flip cup, players must eat a slice of pizza.

“We’re creating an atmosphere that is contagious,” said Jake White, 25, who founded Party.0 four years ago when he was a junior at the University of Wisconsin in Oshkosh. 

One of the best features of Party.0 is that students can indulge in fun and dancing without having to worry about breaking the law. 

“Right away when you walk up to the house, you notice that we are partying outside, not hiding in the basement,” White told The Fix.

Although White is not in recovery himself, he chooses not to drink after seeing addiction ruin the life of his beloved uncle, who recently committed suicide. 

“I had seen addiction and what it could do to someone through my family members,” said White, who tried drinking on occasion but never liked it, in part because he felt that he could easily become addicted himself. 

Photo courtesy of Party.0

After attending college parties sober, White knew that he had to offer students a different option.

“It’s kind of like going to a swimming pool but you didn’t bring your suit,” he said. “Everyone is having fun and splashing around, and you just can’t participate in the same way.”

Oftentimes the lone sober student at drinking parties feels pressured or judged, which can make them feel even more isolated. 

“I [went to traditional parties] and had some fun, but I always felt pressured and had to defend my decision,” White said. 

Now that he’s graduated, running Party.0 is White’s full-time job. This year, the organization will begin a national tour, hosting sober parties at campuses including Penn State and the University of Indiana. 

Photo courtesy of Party.0

White hopes that Party.0 will show students that there are valid alternatives to drinking to socialize. “We want students to walk on to campus knowing that drinking isn’t the only option to be social,” he said. 

At the same time, White knows that he will never entirely defeat drinking culture on campus. “We’re not trying to wage a war on alcohol,” he said. “But we do believe that every student should have options, and a sober option. That’s what’s going to make a difference in the college drinking culture.”

White said that schools like Stanford University that are banning hard alcohol will not make a big difference in campus culture, since drinking is already illegal for many students. Instead, schools need to offer options to students. 

“That’s what we’re aiming to do,” he said. “Make sober events accessible and inspire students to realize they don’t need drugs or alcohol to let loose.”

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Kelly Burch writes about addiction and mental health issues, particularly as they affect families. Follow her on TwitterFacebook, and LinkedIn.