When not fawning over Reggie or tailgating before football games (both of which are overrated), most students spend their time outside of class studying for said classes. Students spend night after night in various study spaces cramming for exams, having mental breakdowns or procrastinating on Facebook.
However, despite these long hours spent studying, the ideal study spot (especially for late-night workers) can be hard to find. Coffee shops close, studying at home too easily leads to Netflix or sleeping, and the Law Library never seems to have an open table.
A lack of options leads to students cramming into bleak study spots featuring loud patrons, dirty bathrooms and ugly views.
The University of Michigan is decidedly beautiful. Every other Instagram has a photo of the inside of Hatcher during finals season or the Law Quadrangle during the first snow. Why does it seem that there are maybe four spots on campus worthy of Instagram but the rest of the widely-known study spaces are generally trash?
The Shapiro Undergraduate Library
The UGLi is notorious for being the worst study space on campus. Despite this infamy, there are never any open tables. The second you walk into the building you can feel the unhealthy mix of procrastination and stress.
The third and fourth floors can be nice if you get one of those tables by the windows, but of course, the only way to get one of those is to sell your soul to Mark Schlissel himself or study at 10 p.m. on a Saturday.
The UGLi earns the descriptor of the seventh circle of Hell due to the less-than-studious students who populate the first and second floors. I personally prefer not to hear about Chad from Tau Mu Delta’s wild night at Skeeps while trying to do my homework. Legend has it even when the second floor appears completely empty, you can still hear the sound of a frat star dragging his Timbs while walking.
I would also like to remind my fellow library patrons that the UGLi is not a restaurant where you and your pals can eat and catch up: I do not want to have to smell your greasy food. Yet you cannot walk through the UGLi after 10 p.m. without seeing at least four Pizza House boxes and likely a mix of Chipotle, Buffalo Wild Wings and Jimmy Johns. Does the party of 10 talking loudly next to me not have any homework to do?
The UGLi is a hotbed of procrastination as groups of friends sit around complaining that they are incredibly busy and stressed out while actually getting no work done. Then suddenly when midnight hits, half of the population begins leaving after finishing little to no work. Meanwhile, the other half realizes the error of their ways and proceeds to cram their work before ultimately going to bed at 3 a.m. under entirely preventable circumstances.
I understand the appeal of a quiet, private study space, but the Stacks offers the same sort of silent solidarity as a prison cell. The uniform boxes do nothing to motivate the young student, offering only a window to the outside world full of free individuals.
The Stacks is the place fake, tortured freshman gather to stress over a five-page intro-level English essay, which apparently requires an all-nighter to finish. It’s the place where you stress out over your first Math 116 exam, which you plan to spend 36 straight hours studying for, but you will actually spend much of this time procrastinating. It’s the place for students who love the idea of being more stressed than their friends — the kid who can’t help but one-up you in workload.
“Oh, you were up until 1:00 a.m. doing Poli Sci 101? I was in the Stacks until they closed cramming for this Orgo exam,” Some freshman who doesn’t understand how college works yet says.
Stop torturing yourself! It’s not cool to be stressed out and sleep deprived.
Most people graduate from the Stacks when they realize it’s not high school anymore and they learn of better study spaces. Though there are the few who never change this mindset (I’m sure you know at least one).
Ross Winter Gardens
Walking into Ross (if you are not a Ross student) offers the same internal feeling of a thousand frat boys asking, “Who do you know here?” It’s intimidating. It feels like everyone is watching you with the knowledge that you are not one of them.
While that feeling can pass with time (or an acceptance to the minor in my case), what never passes is the white men in Canada Goose jackets blocking the hallway. There is never a shortage of bro hugs in the Ross Winter Gardens.
From the perspective of being a study spot, Ross continues to fall short. Ross students do have the luxury of booking private study rooms (which is admittedly nice for group projects), but for any other student who chooses to study there, space is often limited to the Winter Gardens, which are almost always loud, crowded and weirdly echoic.
Also, why are the chairs and tables so weird? Is the rounded black plastic with a strange curvature at the bottom supposed to be ergonomic? With all the money tax-avoidance expert Stephen M. Ross donated, you would think they could furnish the space with something better than inconveniently shaped cheap plastic.
The Michigan Union
I love the Union, but I love the Union as a convenient place to buy coffee on my way to class, not as a place to study. I love that I can get food there (Au Bon Pain is my true love). But I do not know why I would want to study in the same place I’m grabbing a quick Blue Bucks-funded, between-class bite.
Eating should be a time to relax between classes, studying, work and all the rest. It’s a time for mindlessly staring at your phone while shoveling down the arguably disgusting and disappointing Panda Express. It is not a time to try to do your homework.
Conversely, while studying, I do not want to smell food — or even worse watch or hear other people eat. If I’m trying to finish an assignment, I do not want to smell the nauseating mix of Wendy’s and Subway while working on a perpetually sticky table.
There are the few nice study tables in the two study rooms in the front, but seating is so limited, so why bother? You could have the same style of study space in more beautiful buildings like the Law Library or in Hatcher’s Reference Room. Much better to try one of those places than awkwardly walk into the Union study room only to have to walk out again 30 seconds later after finding all the chairs taken.
As a whole, the Union has its merits, but at best it’s an aggressively average study space.
There are of course hidden gems (like Rackham or a few others which I will not name as to not publicize my favorite study spots) but in looking for a nice spot to settle down for several hours for a late night study session, options are limited.
Then again, your favorite study spot may be trash, but if it keeps you out of mine, feel free to remain blissful in your ignorance.