Saturdays may be for the BORGs, but they may not be for students’ well-being and safety – depending on how much alcohol someone puts in their Black Out Rage Gallon, or “BORG.”
The BORG has been a popular drinking method for at least the past few years at state universities, according to Rolling Stone, and recently garnered new fame on TikTok earlier this year. College students are most likely to be found drinking BORGs – made by filling a gallon jug with vodka, water, “caffeinated flavoring” and electrolytes – at day parties, the purpose being to have a drink that lasts them the entire day. As an added tradition, BORGs typically sport an interesting pun on the side of the jug.
Nickholas Ignagni, a junior studying music therapy, said drinking BORGs can be a way for college students to drink the amount they want without dealing with peer pressure.
“Since it’s so colorful and it’s a whole gallon, you can tailor towards what you want and you don’t have to put (in) the whole fifth of vodka because no one will know,” Ignagni said. “Put a shot or two of vodka in and the rest can be water or juice.”
Ignagni named his BORG “Our Borg and Savior” and said the supplies needed to make a BORG make for a relatively cheap drink.
Megan Gooch, a senior studying communications, said since the BORG is a drink made for one person, it can be more sanitary and safe because it is usually made by the person drinking it.
“Someone can pour you a drink and it can go south,” Gooch said. “You make your own (BORG) and you can’t run out because it’s so good. Having your own drink is more responsible than having to share somebody’s.”
While it may be more responsible for people to be the ones making their own drinks and not sharing them, there are risks involved with drinking in general.
James Gaskell, the Athens City-County Health Department health commissioner and medical director, said people tend to finish the drinks they start and the BORG is no exception.
“It depends on how much alcohol they have in there,” Gaskell said. “In general, it seems risky. If you’re drinking beer and you have bottles of beer it’s apparent to you how many bottles you’ve drunk. It seems to me it would be a little harder if you have this big gallon jug of alcohol and you’re nipping at it over some period of time.”
The concern with the BORG, Gaskell added, is alcohol poisoning, which can be fatal.
Over the first week of March, 46 students at the University of Massachusetts Amherst were hospitalized because of a BORG drinking challenge found on TikTok, according to CBS News. Although all of the students were medically cleared with non-life-threatening injuries, the physical consequences of being highly intoxicated remain.
“Your liver can only metabolize about one alcoholic drink basically an hour,” Gaskell said. “Alcoholic drinks are defined as a 12-ounce beer or five ounces of wine or 1.5 ounces of liquor. The signs of alcohol poisoning are sort of subtle at first.”
Gaskell said people can tell if someone has alcohol poisoning by slow breathing, erratic heartbeats, low body temperature, cold and clammy skin, confusion and difficulty waking up.
The proportion of alcohol and other liquids people put in their gallons is a choice affecting how intoxicated they become. While there are variations of BORG recipes, people may decide to go based on what will make them the most intoxicated.
“I think everybody’s gonna make up a different gallon,” Gaskell said. “I mean, some of them will have more water and maybe not much alcohol. Others will have a lot of alcohol and not much water. There’s so many variables, but it doesn’t sound like a very safe thing to do.”
For students participating in BORG drinking, Gaskell said people should take care of one another and know how many drinks they are consuming throughout the day or night. As with drinking any alcohol, the amount matters and affects everyone differently.
“I think the students need to look out for each other,” Gaskell said. “I think you should sort of go together and look out for each other and be aware of how much you’re drinking.”