Joining the 24-hour club

Postscript pulls an all-nighter at Stauffer

At 4 a.m., Stauffer library isn’t the parking lot of studying scholars it usually is.
At 4 a.m., Stauffer library isn’t the parking lot of studying scholars it usually is.

I’m what you would call a night owl, a freak of nature who shrivels in sunlight and revels in the darkness of night. Early morning classes are my worst enemy and all-nighters are a walk in the park compared to that terrifying Friday 8:30 time slot.

And now, Queen’s has fulfilled my wildest dreams: from Nov. 27 to Dec. 20, Stauffer Library, my
home away from home, will be open 24/7.

Ever the eager beaver, I decided to undertake the ultimate Stauffer experience—a whole night surrounded by fluorescent lights, musty old books and the everpervading smell of coffee or what
is more aptly called the “elixir of life”.

The night began as many others before, with a continual flow of students trudging in and out of Stauffer’s doors. As midnight rolled around, the more obscure study areas thinned out, but the first floor—or “Club Stauff”—remained as packed and happening as ever. The presence of scores of students burning the post-midnight oil was impressive, but not unexpected, since many students are accustomed to the usual 2 a.m. closing time. 2 a.m. was a literal breaking point for many students, as
evidenced by the rapid reduction in Stauffer’s capacity.

Iris Chan, ArtSci ’08 set out in the hopes of pulling an all-nighter in the library, but having begun her day at 5 a.m. in Stauffer, she decided to give herself a break (?!) at 2 a.m. By 3 a.m., the ground floor
population had trickled down to the double digits. The number of vacant computer stations was shocking in comparison to the impossibility of snagging those prized slots in Stauffer during the day.

Even during the wee hours of the morning, Rebecca Hall-McGuire, Comm ’10 was remarkably chipper.
When asked how long she planned to stay in the library, she laughed. “Probably a couple more hours,”
she said, attributing her ability to stay awake to a potent amalgamation of sugar and caffeine.

The need for such chemical stimulants is widespread. Luckily for fellow addicts, sugar and caffeine will soon be only a few steps away as the Common Ground is set to begin its 24-hour exam schedule on Dec. 3. I remember only too well that fateful night spent at Co-Gro, binging on coffee and bagels while studying for the horrific BIOL 201 exam the next morning.

Back at Stauffer, at 5 a.m., my head is beginning to pound, either from caffeine withdrawal or from staring at my laptop for hours on end. Deciding to clear my head, I took a stroll around the ground floor, astonished by how many people were still studiously working away.

Rami Beirouti, Sci ’08 sheepishly admitted: “Actually, I just woke up.”

However, his friend Nader Khajenouri, Sci ’08, was still surprisingly lucid, saying he has no idea how he manages to stay awake. The two commented on the perks of flexibility with regards to the new exam hours, but Beirouti discussed the system’s failings. “It opens the door for a lot of people who should be resting by now,” he said.

I for one am guilty of the masochistic tendency to skip sleep in pursuit of higher learning: as in television, late-night gossip and, oh yeah, education. Science—as well as common sense—tells us that sleep deprivation and toiling through the wee hours of the morning is not conducive to effective learning. But nonetheless, for university students, the all-nighter is conceptualized as a rite of passage, without which the university experience seems empty and devoid of that certain something special. That is, aside from the enlightening experience of gaining intelligence, knowledge, wisdom and becoming effective contributors to society as Canada’s future generation of leaders, of course.

When 8 a.m. finally rolled around, I felt like a zombie sleepwalking out of the library. Most horrifying was that as I left the building, I noticed that many of the people who had shared my experience were still at their desks, working away.

On my part, perhaps my biggest mistake was attempting to stay up all night after spending entirety of the previous night working on an essay.

As for the after-effects of partying in Club Stauffer all night?

I’ll tell you tomorrow, after my learning-hangover wears off.

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