It’s back-to-school time on college campuses across the country, and for students that means kick-off events and lots of free stuff from local vendors eager to market themselves. At one such event on the campus green of Kennesaw State University (KSU) in Cobb County, Ga., outside Atlanta, many of those students –- including incoming freshman -– received a plastic cup, a bottle opener and a ping pong ball, all printed with the Domino’s Pizza logo and the nearest store’s phone number.
If you’ve been out of the college scene for a while, this may seem a strange collection of items. But many college students know these are just the right tools for playing a drinking game called “beer pong.” The only thing missing is the beer.
The rules for beer pong, much like Monopoly, vary from place to place, according to bpong.com, organizers of the Beer Pong World Series and self-styled “center of the beer pong universe.” But the overall goal is to bounce a ping-pong ball into a plastic cup. If you miss, you drink. If you make it, the other team drinks. Regardless of who wins, the point is to drink.
Trouble is, many experts, including the Task Force on College Drinking, a program run by the National Advisory Council on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, say drinking games such as beer pong lead to binge drinking.
When shown the Domino's Pizza branded items together, KSU student Reggie Joseph quickly said, “Oh, this is for beer pong.”
“I’m surprised they’d be allowed to [give this away],” Joseph continued. “It’s a dry campus. It seems to be misrepresenting what KSU stands for.”
A KSU administrator, who declined to give his name because he was not authorized to speak about the subject, said event planners should not have allowed these items to be distributed at a KSU event. He went on to say he was troubled because the items were promoting alcohol on campus.
Bonnie Brand, board chair of the Cobb Alcohol Task Force and liaison to the KSU alcohol policies committee, said in a statement:
"Five thousand young people die a year due to alcohol-related incidents. It is with this in mind, that we [Cobb Alcohol Taskforce] would like to have a conversation with the vendor and the university about the practices and policies of providing freebies that feed into a culture of binge drinking on college campuses."
The general manager of the Domino’s Pizza in Kennesaw that was responsible for handing out the plastic cups and other items, who would only provide his first name, said the plastic cups and pingpong balls (both of which had the store's phone number listed) were in no way promoting the use of alcohol or underage drinking.
“It’s just novelty items, basically,” Mitch said. “We’re just trying to be different than the other guys. They’re giving out highlighters and stuff and we've done that before and they disappear; they just get put on a shelf and forgot.”