In one case a student dressed up as Robin in a University of Manchester politics lecture
Students at the University of Manchester have joined in the next level of the viral craze known as neknomination – choosing to complete the challenge during lectures.
Last Thursday a student interrupted an Introduction to Comparative Politics lecture to complete a challenge wearing a Robin costume. Another neknomination took place during a nursing lecture. This comes after reports that lectures have been similarly disrupted at universities in Edinburgh, Nottingham, and Leeds.
While the drinking game continues to be increasingly popular, reaction from other students who were in the relevant lectures has been mixed. Issac Atwal, a Manchester student who was in the lecture, told The Mancunion, “It was all a bit stupid really, he was dressed as robin, not even batman. It was funny for about the first ten seconds then it all seemed a bit pointless really”.
Charlie Spargo, reporter for The Mancunion, also in the lecture, expressed similar feelings, tweeting, “it wasn’t actually very funny or imaginative”.
However, not all students have been so disparaging towards the trend. Nursing student Lauren Boon, who witnessed a neknomination in one of her lectures, told this newspaper, “I thought it was quite funny, the lecturer didn’t however, [the student] was brave to do it like that.”
As previously reported, neknomination involves a person ‘necking’ a large amount of alcohol, before posting a video of it online and challenging others to perform a similar stunt within 24 hours. It is believed the craze started in Australia but has rapidly spread around the world on Facebook and Twitter.
The phenomenon has recently been blamed for the deaths of two Britons. Issac Richardson 20, from Essex, became the first to die after drinking a cocktail of “wine, whisky, vodka, and lager”, while police in Wales are investigating whether the game led to the death of 29 year old Welshman Stephen Brooks.
Health charities have warned that the game can have “consequences that are no laughing matter”.
Dr Sarah Jarvis, adviser from the alcohol charity Drinkaware, said, “Young people often say they feel peer pressure to drink to fit in, but competitions to drink excessively in a short space of time can be dangerous and this should not come as a surprise.
“Quite apart from the risk of accident or injury as a result of drinking to excess, there is another aspect to these online drinking games which is the ‘cybershame’ some young people may experience.” There have been reports that those who ‘break the chain’ – i.e. refusing to complete the challenge that had been set to them – have been subject to online abuse.
Professor Mark Bellis, of the UK Faculty of Public Health, told the BBC that the craze highlighted the danger of having a “culture where people don’t understand the dangers of alcohol”.
He argued that this was only part of a societal problem whereby drunkenness is “probably actively encouraged”, adding, “This is just the tip of an iceberg of young people damaging themselves on a week by week basis”.
Eric Appleby, chief executive of Alcohol Concern, said, “It is devastating for family and friends to lose someone in this way.
“This lethal ‘game’ shows just how hard we have to work to de-normalise binge-drinking among young people. But it’s not just about young people. They take their cues from society’s attitude to drinking and it’s this we have to change for all our sakes.”