The game involves participants uploading videos of themselves chugging drinks, doing wild stunts and then nominating their peers through social media to do the same. At least five people worldwide have died from the drinking game. The origins of the game are uncertain, but it is thought to have started in Australia before spreading around the world, according to a CNN report. The game has recently appeared on-campus at Duke.
“The real secret of neknomination's success is that it is taken both as an honor and a challenge," wrote senior Samuel Miller in an email Thursday. "Someone, and most likely someone close or important to you, decided to publicly pick you as their successor."
Miller wrote that he learned about the game when he was nominated to participate in the game by one of his closest friends. He explained that neknomination has an appeal to students who consider it an honor to be picked.
Miller noted that after being nominated himself, he wanted to “open the door for such a conversation with a few more friends.”
He picked close friends, including his roommate from the previous year and one of his good friends from abroad.
No cases involving the game have been reported to the Duke administration.
“I only recently briefly heard of this phenomenon and to my knowledge it has not been an issue at Duke,“ said Stephen Bryan, director of the Office of Student Conduct.
Tom Szigethy, associate dean and director of the Student Wellness Center, said that talk of the game only reached the Wellness Center about a week ago and they have been taking measures to ensure awareness about how high-risk drinking might lead to serious consequences.
“The messages that we send out to the student body through all of our programs define high-risk drinking and what the results will likely be," he said. "Students are informed of what type of drinking may land them in the hospital with alcohol poisoning.”
Daniel Perry, alcohol and drug senior program coordinator at the DUWELL said the social media component of the game makes it especially dangerous.
"Neknomination could be perceived by some as new and exciting," he said. "This, combined with the ease of social media, makes for a perfect storm."
Miller acknowledged the danger that might be associated with the activity.
“I was careful to participate appropriately as well as challenge individuals that would accept their nominations playfully but tastefully," Miller said. "That was my direct responsibility and I'm happy to have succeeded."
The phenomenon is spreading from one group to another on campus, but “it's a one-time thing," Miller added.
“Once you neknominate, you are in most cases done," he said. "Sooner or later, everyone at Duke will have participated and it will become just another fastpass fad on campus."