In an effort to get the best study space at Earl Gregg Swem Library for “reading days” prior to finals, William and Mary students knocked over one of their classmates in a Black Friday-meets-Walking Dead-Adderall-driven frenzy. Referred to widely as “Swem,” the library is often packed to capacity during finals season and is the site of make-shift tents, cots, coffee-makers, and desperate students. This stressful over-crowding phenomenon is so well-known that the student government organization has previously offered free massage chairs during finals in a last-ditch attempt to ease student nerves. Popular student Facebook group “Overheard at William and Mary” is populated with bizarre study interactions. One study group even placed a sign reading “#occupyswem” outside their study room door.
A student recently posted a youtube video that seemed to show another student being knocked over by a crowd of students trying to push their way into Swem Library. Students crowded the entrance to the building Sunday morning and early afternoon, anticipating its opening at 1pm. Some even reported seeing other students openly crying, overcome by the stress of final exams.
Trent Sterneck, the student who taped the video, said in a comment to The Informer, “The video was taken just before 1:00pm on Sunday when Swem Library opened its doors to a line of several hundred frenzied students waiting to begin day two of the pre-exam ‘reading period’. Swem Library clearly offers the finest environment for on campus studying. The students at the very front of the line had supposedly been waiting outside for hours in effort to stake claim on Swem’s finest real-estate: the private study rooms.”
Sterneck went further, saying, “Tensions were high as 1:00pm approached. A group of girls attempting to ‘cut the line’ were quickly sent back by an onslaught of dirty looks. One girl in line told me she had pepper spray and was ready to use it if things got rowdy. Another student, clearly ready for the long haul, showed me the coffee maker he planned to smuggle in. As the doors opened, the crowd rushed forward and someone appeared to fall and get trampled. Fortunately the chaos was short lived and, to my knowledge, no one was seriously hurt.”
Update: Another student described the experience of the crowd pushing in when Swem opened in an email to The Informer. “As one of the students who was there for the opening invasion of the library, I can say that it was truly madness. About 20 minutes prior to the library opening, everybody stood up and began reviewing their strategies for finding rooms and surging forward to get closer to the door. As the door opened, we were pushed forward, almost falling, and heard screams,” said Melanie Gilbert (’15).
The video of the chaos can be found here. Pay close attention around the 34 second mark: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4Rfe2XyPP4s&feature=player_embedded
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