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ZeroProof hosts alcohol-free tailgate, builds space for sobriety

In the spring of last year, a group of Notre Dame students came together to start ZeroProof, a club with the goal of providing alcohol-free options for sober students and students working
towards sobriety.

“As I’ve been at Notre Dame, I found it difficult to enjoy activities that didn’t involve partying or alcohol and started to feel disconnected from my peers. Moreover, I’m very passionate about helping people that struggle with substance abuse or are in recovery and I realized that Notre Dame doesn’t have many options for people that may need resources for these issues,” senior Caroline Paige, one of the leaders of ZeroProof, said in an email.

Paige and her fellow ZeroProof leaders, senior Van Gundersen, and junior Mary Musselman, have partnered with the McDonald Center for Student Well-Being in order to expand the club’s capability when it comes to educating students about substance abuse.

“We decided to start ZeroProof and partner with the Wellness Center so that aside from our events, we can provide education and resources on substance use and abuse for people that may need them, but this is still in progress,” Paige stated.

While the club is still fairly new, the leaders have already organized numerous events, and are in the process of planning even more.

“We have had trivia nights, gone to a [South Bend] Cubs’ game, ice skating, and the football tailgate,” Paige said in an email. “We will host more events that may consist of bowling, hiking, more trivia nights, karaoke, going to more South Bend Cubs’ games and many more fun recreational activities,” Paige said.

Senior Megan Mikuen noted in an email that she enjoys that she can remain present while participating in ZeroProof activities.

“I really enjoy the ZeroProof community and have actually gone to a few of their past events including a trivia night and a trip to a South Bend Cubs game,” Mikuen said. “I love getting the opportunity to have fun in a setting where drinking isn’t a priority. It really makes you focus on being present and enjoying an activity for itself.”

Last Saturday marked Notre Dame’s first home game of the season, with campus festivities beginning as early as 5 a.m. According to Paige, tailgating occurs prior to every home game throughout the season and gameday festivities tend to revolve around alcohol consumption.

For that reason, ZeroProof decided to host an alcohol-free tailgate with the hope of creating a safe and inclusive environment absent of social pressures related to drinking, according to Paige.

“Personally, I was extremely excited to host the tailgate because football tailgates commonly involve excessive alcohol use,” Paige said. “ZeroProof wants to provide a safe place for people to feel included with the Notre Dame community and cheer for the football team without feeling pressured to drink alcohol or being surrounded by it.”

“Since college environments have such an emphasis on partying, many people that don’t want to drink or are in recovery can feel disconnected and excluded from their college community and it’s our mission to help them enjoy fun activities and connect with other people that could share some of the same interests,” Paige said.

“I attended the event because I enjoy being sober at football games. Most of the gameday events that are popular with students involve some sort of alcohol consumption, so it’s nice to have a safe space to partake in traditional events without the pressure to drink,” Mikuen said.

Similar to other tailgates, ZeroProof provided a variety of foods and drinks to those who stopped by.

“We had Chick-Fil-a, Jimmy Johns, a variety of chips, buffalo chicken dip, fruit and other snacks! We decided to have a variety of drinks including Gatorade, La Croix, Arnold Palmer, water, and some soda,” Paige shared in an email.

Contact Jenna Abu-Lughod at jabulugh@nd.edu