UMass students: ‘Everyone’ was drinking from borgs


For the Gazette

Published: 03-08-2023 6:41 PM

AMHERST — Another “Blarney Blowout,” the annual unsanctioned St. Patrick’s-inspired party, has come and gone at UMass Amherst. Each year, the celebration that kicks off spring break is filled with rowdy drinking, but this year nearly 30 students were taken by ambulance to the hospital, in part due to the consumption of “borgs.”

Made popular by TikTok, “borgs,” short for blackout rage gallons, are the latest binge drinking trend. Often labeled by marker with names like “Somewhere Over the Rainborg” or “My Parents Diborg Papers,” the gallon jugs contain a mixture of water, alcohol and flavored energy drinks.

“Literally anybody and everybody was carrying a borg around,” said freshman Tess Mollo. “It seems like that was the main attraction of Blarney.”

The scene was typical for a Blarney Blowout — crowds of students dressed in green, a drunken student crowd-surfing in a shopping cart, and people throwing up.

“I got hit by [a borg] flying in the air that hit me on the head… I also saw other people get hit by them, and then they exploded on top of their head,” said sophomore Eden Williams-Bergen.

The bulk of the festivities took place off campus outside the Townehouse of Amherst Condominiums and along North Whitney Street. Two days after the event, Townehouse maintenance staff member Mike Laprade said he’d picked up about 60 gallon containers after just one hour of cleaning.

Many students turn to borgs as an alternative to other drinks because they believe the addition of water and electrolytes will dampen the alcohol’s hangover effects.

“I did get like half a gallon of water in me while I was drinking, which I don’t usually do,” said sophomore Garrett Burke.

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Most borg recipes on TikTok contain 15-17 shots of vodka, but since students concoct the mixture themselves, the amount of alcohol varies depending on each person’s preferences.

“If you measure wrong ... you don’t know the exact amount of alcohol you’re putting into it, so it’s dangerous,” said sophomore Maddie Saart, who said the borgs have been around awhile. “But I think Blarney’s kind of the day people go crazy with the borgs.”

Students also turned to borgs for the outdoor Blarney festivities because they are closed containers.

“You can walk around with them and you wouldn’t get in trouble for an open container,” Burke said.

UMass officials said they will assess this weekend’s developments and consider steps to improve alcohol education and intervention, and communicate with students and families. Currently, all incoming students participate in required education called, which includes information about the size of standard drinks, and the physiological and medical risks of binge drinking.

Williams-Bergen, however, was skeptical about how effective those efforts would be.

“I don’t think any training will make a difference because we had a training before we came to UMass, and people are just doing it to complete it,” Williams-Bergen said. “People need to just learn from their experiences — nothing like the university can tell you to do.”