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Finals season has arrived and, along with it, the frustratingly familiar routine of wandering endlessly through Ref in search of a vacant seat. If you’re tired of wasting your precious moments in Butler searching instead of studying, Spectrum has solutions!


For the risk-takers out there, consider marking your territory with a backpack. Wake up at 5 a.m., drop off your study materials at a vacant seat in Butler, and head back to bed. We can’t guarantee that your belongings will remain untouched or your seat will remain unfilled when you return, but this strategy seems to prove effective for some. Be warned—this informal method of saving seats comes with a dash of controversy. It brings about the question: what exactly warrants authority over a seat—personal belongings or physical presence?

Tag-team time

Find some friends and start strategizing! If your early-rising buddy has a seat, plan to take over in the afternoon when they decide to leave. Likewise, hand off the baton when you give up around 2 a.m. and offer your seat to your nocturnal friend. Be sure to text and coordinate to maintain continuous seat-fulfillment. If you share a seat among three or four pals who have different time preferences for studying, you could have a perpetually occupied seat on reserve for the entire reading week.

Early bird gets the worm

Trying to bypass the masses and keep from crowds? If you already have a messed up sleep schedule (or don’t mind self-sabotage), take advantage of Butler during odd hours! We hear that 4 to 6 a.m. is prime time for those who prefer to spread out and enjoy vacancy. You’ll catch the cramming night owls on their way out and snag a seat before the “early risers” arrive; 4 a.m. is the new 7 a.m., folks.

Move in

Seeking to prove your allegiance to academia? Nothing screams “enthusiastic about education” (and possibly “I have no life”) like moving into Butler. We recommend you pack your toothbrush, deodorant, pillow, and a large dose of determination (or maybe just caffeine). Why bother finding a seat when you plan on permanently inhabiting it? No one will dare take your coveted corner of Ref if it looks like a blanket fort-meets-office.

Reserve a room

Plan ahead and take advantage of the room reservation system! Though the online system only allows for 2 hour bookings per person, you can also coordinate with friends. By booking back-to-back sessions for the same room, you’ll have a monopoly on your own personal study haven.

Don’t bother

There comes a point at which effort becomes futile. If the previous options seem too extreme or labor-intensive, we recommend looking beyond Butler for other study spaces. Many study spots on campus (like the newly beloved Milstein Center) are boasting extended hours during finals. And if all else fails, you can always study in your room. Your roommate will likely be locked up in a library, so take advantage of the solitude and study in your own space.

Best of luck and happy studying, Columbia!

columbia barnard butler finals study
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