almanac

Student disappointed when not imbued with infinite wisdom after all-nighter

A student’s depiction of their brain being endowed with infinite wisdom.

With midterm season looming over UW-Madison’s campus this month, students of all disciplines are seeking to pass their midterms as professors hand them out across campus. For some, it may be a multiple-choice affair, or the beginnings of a multi-page paper; no matter the format, all are hoping to prepare themselves as efficiently as possible. For junior Ineida Tonnabeer, this is something she’s struggled with since her first semester as a Badger.

“Yeah, exams suck,” Ineida told me when I sat down with her on Monday afternoon. “I had one today that I was supposed to prepared for, but the new study method I tried didn’t work very well.”

When I asked her to elaborate on this supposed study method of hers, she was excited to tell me about a rumor she’d heard from a classmate of hers. It has long been a tradition of hard working students on the UW-Madison campus to pull all-nighters in the stacks, the unmentionably cramped part of the library that is so oppressively quiet, you can hear the whispers of your ancestors if you listen hard enough. Supposedly, Ineida was told, it has always been a way for students to be instantly prepared for their exams, even if they save all their studying for the all-nighter.

“My friend said, like, if you stay there all night, just being around old books will trigger a reaction in your brain,” Ineida went on to describe her experience in the stacks. “I went there around 11 p.m., after I met my friends at the Terrace for a few pitchers, and I stayed there the whole night, just like my friend said she did.”

I asked Ineida if she deigned to do any studying while she was at the stacks, just in case her plan to simply absorb the knowledge contained in the nearby books without reading or interacting with them didn’t work.

“Of course I didn’t, my friend said I didn’t have to. She just said if I spent the night in the stacks, I would ace all my exams,” Ineida was visibly upset. “It didn’t work for my calc exam!”

The longstanding tradition of studying non-traditionally in order to hope that some sort of enlightening experience will bring them good fortune has always been a topic for debate among the university’s current students and alumni. For Ineida, the rumors surrounding the stacks were proven false. For countless others, however, emerging bleary-eyed with a sickly sheen from Memorial Library in the twilight hours of dawn has proven an effective form of gaining knowledge.

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