Why Weldon Shouldn't be Open 24 Hours

It’s 9:00 P.M. on a Saturday night at the D. B. Weldon Library. I walk into the third floor washroom and a young woman is brushing her teeth at the sink. This isn’t the first time I’ve seen it—students coming to the library armed with books and laptops, but also toothbrushes, blankets and pillows. When it comes to exam period at Western and Weldon’s 24/7 extended hours, there are no limits on how far students will go to get the most studying done, even if it means sleeping over at the library to secure their spot for the next morning.

At this time of night, students should be heading home from the library and getting ready for bed. Instead, the atmosphere inside Weldon is still one of intensity. The light fixtures buzz unevenly; the only other sounds are papers flipping and the occasional cough. As I pack up my things, I wonder how many of the other students will be memorizing definitions and solving math problems into the early hours of the morning.

It would be one thing if this behaviour was completely student-driven. Every once in a while, pulling an all-nighter is necessary. Plus, university students are old enough to make intelligent decisions about how to manage their time. However, Western students are almost encouraged by the university to study late at night. Posters can be found around campus announcing the newly extended library hours at both Weldon and Taylor.

“As of today, the D.B. Weldon Library is officially open 24 hours a day!” tweeted the Western Student Experience Twitter account, which was retweeted by the University’s main account.

On top of that, the University Student Council offers shuttles from Weldon running as late as 4:30 A.M., which is an unhealthy time to finish studying for the evening.

The hype surrounding these extended hours contributes to Western’s harmful “work hard, party hard” mentality. Western students are generally intense about everything they do, choosing to “have it all” and prioritize both school and socializing over their own health. Western University and its students alike need to stop glamorizing stretching the human capacity in order to do well on exams. Spending 15 hours straight in Weldon isn’t cool. Forgoing sleep and sending Snapchats with the Weldon geofilter and a 3:00 A.M. time stamp isn’t healthy. This behaviour is not normal and should not be accepted and idealized at Western.

The push to overwork yourself is contradictory to Western’s advocacy for mental health and the multitude of mental health services they offer.

“The school preaches to take care of yourself and focus on wellness during exam season, but then enables physically and emotionally unhealthy behaviours like this one,” says Sarah Nagus, a fourth year student in human resource management.

We are being told to get adequate sleep, eat healthy and practice self-care during exam period—but, of course, Weldon will be open all hours of the day and night for our convenience.

Amy Scott, a second year student studying media theory and production, says, “I'm happy that they do this so that students have an opportunity to study whenever they can fit it into their schedule. However, I feel like it kind of promotes unhealthy studying habits such as not getting proper sleep. It somewhat challenges students to go as hard as they can, which is not healthy at all.”

Other students are in support of the extended hours.

“For some reason, I find night time very relaxing for me. I enjoy so much grabbing a hot drink, and powering through work during the night,” says Emily Van Eerd, a fourth year criminology and women’s studies student. “I love the late nights I've had with friends at Weldon, giggling through the tired and doing really, really well on the exams we studied for.”

While many students do support and take advantage of it, the mere fact that Weldon is open 24/7 from December 4th to 14th encourages all-nighters and discourages healthy life balance and time management. For first year students, this is their first university exam period and they are being told that to fit the Western ideal, they should be grinding at Weldon for hours and shuttling back to their residences at 2:00 A.M. Many first year students are still adjusting to university and have not yet developed time management skills.

“Yes, some students are going to stay up all night regardless,” says Alexie Evans, Western Alumni, BA and MMJC, “but I think it’s more important for the university to promote self care and mental wellness during a stressful exam season. You need to take care of yourself, which means sleeping, eating well, and going home to SHOWER!”

Being in the library at 5:00 A.M. because you haven’t gone home yet isn’t normal, and we shouldn’t dismiss this behaviour as funny or admirable. Let’s change this mentality and teach current and future students that health and well-being comes first, especially during exam period.

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