A BYU motto says “The World is Our Campus,” but the reverse is true for some busy students.
Mooching food, napping or even pulling all-nighters becomes common on campus when class schedules or academic pressures make going home inconvenient for students.
A study surveying 1,125 college students found that all-nighters are common for busy students. Twenty percent of all students stay up all night at least once a month. Multiple accounts on BYU’s student-run Q&A service The 100 Hour Board, describe all-nighters in the engineering buildings, trying to catch up on homework.
Michael Sauer, who recently graduated in biochemistry, said he once stayed overnight in the Benson building with a group of classmates during finals week. They had a research paper due the next day and they hadn’t even started, so they shut themselves in a lab office and worked nearly 24 hours from 8 p.m. until 6 p.m. the next day. When security came around, one of Sauer’s classmates showed the officer an after-hours pass and they kept working.
“It was like a prison cell, just cinder blocks, no windows or anything,” Sauer said. “We stayed up the whole night and we hashed it out.”
Amy Briggs, a senior studying mechanical engineering, said she has stayed overnight in the Clyde Building, the Crabtree Building and a small trailer called B34. If there are students in the engineering building’s Computer Aided Engineering Design and Manufacturing labs when the buildings close for the night, they are free to stay as long as needed. Briggs said engineering students often have big projects due that require the resources on the lab computers.
“You can drive past the Clyde/Crabtree parking lot by the Wilk, and at any time at night you’ll see cars there,” Briggs said. “You start and there’s no windows so you can’t see the sun as it goes, and you look at the clock and the next thing you know it’s five in the morning.”
University Police, Lt. Steven Messick said unless students have permission to be in a building after hours, they could be cited for trespassing.
“The university knows that sometimes people have to put in an all-nighter — they’re working on a project that can’t be stopped or something like that,” Messick said. “But there’s no approval for basically camping out and sleeping in buildings.”
Briggs said other campus resources have been helpful to her throughout the years. She remembered the Richards Building’s hot showers when her apartment’s water heater broke in the middle of the winter and the apartment’s management wouldn’t fix it. She also takes frequent naps on campus to get a jumpstart between classes.
Websites such as The Secret Nap Society have been dedicated to finding good napping locations on campus, but Briggs said she usually seeks out a women’s bathroom with a mother’s lounge. There, female students can use the couches to nap in peace. On other days, Briggs said she finds a long bench in less-frequented areas, such as the second floor of the Joseph Smith Building.
Messick said every year, belongings are stolen when the owner is napping. He recommended students put their belongings in their bags and use that as a pillow to discourage potential theft.
Finding free food on campus isn’t driven as much by desperation as it is by frugality and fun, according to accounting major Rizek Housari. Housari has been using the Lunchbox app to get free food since someone first recommended it his freshman year. Housari is now a junior, and he still uses the app about once a week to get free food with his friends.
Lunchbox collects event information from the internet and uploads it to the app, detailing each event’s time, place and requirements for getting food. At the 40 or 50 Lunchbox events Housari has attended, he’s eaten free Cafe Rio, Zupas and J-Dawgs, along with many treats and pizza.
“You can get really sick of pizza. It’s probably 75 percent of what’s on Lunchbox,” Housari said. “Me and my friends make a game out of it: how many times we can go and get good food that’s not pizza.”
Neil Reed, who graduated in April in environmental science, took the game a step further his freshman year by surviving almost solely on free campus food. The Lunchbox app didn’t exist yet, but Reed said he managed to spend only $8 on food the entire year. His diet consisted mostly of leftover BYUSA or church event food. One month he ate 67 hot dogs and a three-gallon tub of vanilla ice cream.
His motto was “it’s not eating what you want, it’s eating what you’ve got.” Looking back on the experience, he said he realized he spent time, not money, on his food.
When friends heard news of Reed’s budgeting accomplishment, they told him it didn’t count because he’d received some food from friends and family. Reed said over time the opinions started to get to him, so he decided to do something that would “count.”
He’d learned about hunter-gatherers in an Intro to Archaeology class and been impressed by the relative freedom of their lifestyle. Classes weren’t going very well, which made Reed realize that he was only working hard in school in order to get a job so that he could feed himself. He said it dawned on him that he could skip school and work if he were to opt out of society and be a hunter-gatherer.
Reed decided to set up a tent on campus in the middle of January and forage from campus plants for a week, blogging about his experiences. He had a professor teach him about edible plants on campus and made it through, competing with campus deer for his food.
Reed said he learned two things from the experience: that he could do hard things and that it was worth it to buy food.
“It’s amazing what you can do when you aren’t eating dandelions,” Reed said. “Food can taste really good, it turns out, so now I cook a lot and buy spices and stuff.”
Unconventional experiments aside, Reed said he believes BYU campus is full of useful resources.
“Whether that’s food or people who can help us with things, or even good nap places, there’s things on campus that are really actually very practical and useful, and good to know,” Reed said. “You just have to learn to see things differently. Maybe be open to more possibilities.”