A Guide to Van Pelt During Reading Days

by Johnny McNulty

The Curve Saboteur
           If you’re in her class, you’re a target. At some point she began to realize diminishing marginal returns on studying, so she’s going to invest in tripping you up instead. Her tricks take many forms, such as getting other students to tap out tunes with their pencils until the entire Library basement temporarily becomes the whitest production of Stomp in the show’s history. Or she may try tell you that the cute girl/guy over there likes you, or that her mom just died and she’s going to slowly compress herself in the high-density stacks until the pain goes away. Just plug those headphones back in, friend! Like all women, she’s a liar and a cheat. Just be sure to loudly complain about how royally screwed you are, and then superglue every page of her notes to each other.

Wharton, Engineering, and Nursing Students
           While every kind of student comes to the library to study during reading days, it becomes pretty apparent that some of them are a little new to the experience. Generally it’s polite to show them around and help them adjust. For instance it’s a good idea to warn Nursing students that no one has put foam on all the sharp edges of the furniture, so they have to be careful if they’re going to play tag. In a way, nothing is sadder than a Nurse with a boo-boo. Engineering students are used to working long hours, so they acclimate quickly, but you may have to answer their curious questions about all these “booh-uks” everywhere. Wharton students usually won’t ask questions, but will try to buy a grad student to be their academic packhorse, and a physical packhorse to bring back treasures. Remember, if one of them tries to get you to check their coat, they don’t know any better; it’s their custom.

Caffeine Braggadocio
           Over the next week, you will often hear the following types of boasting often:

“Oh my god, I’ve had so much caffeine over the past few days, I feel like that episode of Saved By the Bell everybody references in this situation!”

“The only time my shaking hand is without a coffee in it is when I give the cup back for a refill.”

“I don’t even study (gulp) anymore, I just keep drinking (gulp) coffee without any sort of pause (gulp) whatsoever.”

“Shut up, pussies, caffeine is for, uh, pussies. Taurine is where it’s at.”

“Please, I ingest pure adrenaline and shock my self with a defibrillator every (BZZZZRRRRK!) AH! OH! AH! EEEEEEOOOOHSHIT THAT WAS HURTING. Oh yeah! Shit. I just forgot the last two months.”

Study Group which Devolves into Renegade Lord of the Flies-Type Society
           One of the most fascinating things which occurs during reading days is the mini-cultures which flower and wilt within the span of the 3 hour maximum reservation for a Group Study Room. Usually arising out of a power struggle, these tend to be hierarchical systems, with the Internet accruing to the most powerful, and note-taking forced upon the weakest. Like all cultures, the formation of Self is predicated upon the Other, so they tend to be extremely xenophobic, and skirmishes between study rooms for control of chalk, extra chairs, and mating partners have occurred. While observing this is fascinating, if caught watching them through the window, they will eat you.

Sleeping Bag Kid
           Fuck you, sleeping bag kid. We fucking get it; you have a lot of work! So much work you can’t be bothered to walk back to your room with a bed, but you took the time to get your fucking camping gear ready for the wilds of Van Pelt. The library is temperature controlled you jackass. The school preserves 1,000+ year old tomes in there, and you think you’re going to die of exposure in Rosengarten? If I see you this year I’m putting your hand in warm water while you sleep.

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