Issues



November, 2016 Issue

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15 online articles from this issue. Next


PARTY.0 Offers A Student Generated Concept That is Attracting Attention Nationwide.

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Over the years, many students have reached out to me for advice after they have seen me speak. I love to help and always make myself available to them.

Four years ago, the Dean of Students from the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh emailed me after I presented my welcome week program to their new students. An orientation leader was seeking advice on public speaking. The Dean connected me with this student, Jake White. I called him and we spoke for an hour. Little did I know that I would end that conversation more inspired than Jake did!

Jake started an innovative program known as Party.0 in 2012. He wanted me to mentor him on how to be an effective public speaker so he could promote this program to other colleges and universities. Party.0 presents students with an opportunity to party alcohol-free. As a junior in college Jake experienced how lonely it was to not to partake in the popular weekend drinking scene. Wanting to create an option for himself and his peers, he started throwing sober parties. Jake is now the 24-year-old Executive Director for Party.0 and speaks to students in high schools and colleges.

Jake felt that for him and many others, college created an interesting ultimatum. "Are you going to be social, or sober?" He wanted to make friends, have fun, and feel good without drinking or doing drugs. He found that Party.0 was a way to gather hundreds of students around in a safe, positive, and inclusive environment.

The foundation of Party.0's success is that it is not school sponsored, it is strictly student run. The students maintain total control to come up with their own solution to the epidemic of high-risk drinking on campuses. Jake was hosting two off-campus parties per month with an average attendance of 150 students. The highest attendance was 214. No alcohol was present. They look like any other house party - there are DJ's, dancing, and prizes. He has gained sponsorship from Red Bull and Papa John's Pizza, where they provide free goods.

Jake built a texting list of interested students that could be notified about the parties. In fact nine out of ten students who were approached wanted to be added to the text notification list. "What I find remarkable is that half of those students were drinkers. Have fun, all you need is tons of people and some dance music and you got yourself a great party!"

Shannan Salter also from St Norbert said, "I went to the Halloween Party.0 and I had a wonderful time. I was a little nervous when I first arrived to the party because I did not know what to expect. However, when I first arrived I was welcomed and found that many of my friends were already there. I was a little worried that Party.0 would be a little awkward because it is not like a typical college party, but I found that this party was just as or more fun than those "typical" parties. There was a DJ, pizza, games, and friends, I mean what more could you ask for on a Friday night?"

She had the opportunity to meet many different students that she may not have while playing a game. “We all remember meeting each other and our conversations since it was a completely sober event, which made it a safe and comfortable setting to meet new people. I think Party.0 gives all individuals the chance to attend and partake in the typical party scene that is associated with college, but in a safe way where no one is pressured to do anything he or she does not wish to do. Having these sober parties as options on the weekend gives students more options of events to partake in that do not include drinking, which I believe is very important. Many times I am looking for ways to stay social but do not want to attend a typical party with alcohol, and I think Party.0 is the perfect alternative. I cannot wait to attend the next Party.0; in fact I plan on bringing my roommates and friends to introduce them to the unique and entertaining event."

For Jake there is a lot of satisfaction. "The best part is watching Party.0 leaders discover that they can have success throwing these parties."

Party.0 gave them an excuse to not drink. Those students never arrived at a party with alcohol and there was never a battle between the drinkers and the non-drinkers. I asked Jake how they reacted when they arrived. He noted that some were uncomfortable when they first came into the party. "It was really cool to see them gain confidence and realize that they did not need the alcohol to loosen up, to talk to a girl, or to be stupid to have fun."

I will be interested to see if those students decrease their alcohol use moving forward as they learn to socialize comfortably without it.

Recently I reached out to Michael Hutkin a freshman at St. Norbert College in De Pere, WI. Michael said, "I love Party.0 because you get to meet new people in an environment that is very safe and I can't forget to mention very fun! There is tons of dancing, music, food, and games. When I went to the first Party .0 I was not sure really what to expect, because I was never one to attend parties. I am honestly happy I went because I was able to meet a lot of great people, and become really good friends with a lot of them."

Michael got to know the two students who are in charge of organizing and bringing it to life. He found them to be inspiring, and extraordinary individuals. They asked him to help organize the parties."In my honest opinion this event is a great way to keep a lot of people away from alcohol and making sure that people are being safe, smart, and staying out of trouble. Party.0 is an extremely fun, enjoyable, environment, and you will make many good memories as well as establishing amazing friendships and relationships. You don't need alcohol to pull it off."

Jake started a non-profit in February 2015. His goal is to bring this innovative program to campuses across the country. He purchased a book on how to raise money, implemented what he learned, and is working full time at growing this. I truly admire his dedication and conviction. Right now there are four campuses in Wisconsin who host Party.0 and several others have expressed interest.

Any two students who want to start Party.0 can. If you are interested in bringing Party.0 to your campus you can reach out to Jake. Once you decide to move forward, Jake will help you plan, promote, and fund this initiative. He will train you on how to raise money for the events, and how to gain sponsorship for food and beverages. He will also teach you how to look for off- campus venues, and how to publicize the parties. Jake is then available on an ongoing basis for advice - think of him as your sober party coach!

For more information and to connect with Jake White, email: jake@party0.org or visit party0.org



THIS STORY WRITTEN BY ELAINE PASQUA.