Miniature horses, late-night breakfast, fidget toys: Here are all campus events to visit for final exam stress relief


Photo Courtesy of Charlotte Sandler

Students pet a Miniature Horse in pet therapy with the non-profit Mane in Heaven.

Nora Collins, Reporter

Several Northwestern organizations will host events across the next two weeks aiming to reduce student stress during reading and finals weeks. 

NU Active Minds, a student organization focused on reducing stigma around mental health struggles, will hold its quarterly “stress-less” event Dec. 1 and 2 near the Informations Commons desk at the entrance of University Library. Weinberg junior and co-President Pooja Jain said the event will feature coloring pages, snacks, and fidget toys. 

“We want to do our part to help (students) de-stress a little bit,” Jain said. “If you have exams, if you have projects, if you have papers, you will have stress, no matter what. However, it’s just important to make sure that you’re managing that in a healthy way.”

Weinberg sophomore Maddie Kerr, the organization’s other co-president, said reading and finals weeks highlight a general pattern that pervades the NU campus: students putting aside their needs for the sake of productivity. 

Kerr said they have often heard students “bragging or joking” about skimping on eating and sleeping during finals weeks.

“It’s really important to help people know that neglecting your needs is not going to make you more worthy or more accomplished,” Kerr said. “If anything, it’s going to be a lot harder to meet your academic goals when you’re running on empty.”

Norris University Center will also host exam relief events, including an NBC Peacock streaming event, miniature horse therapy and a late-night breakfast on Dec. 2, 5 and 6, respectively. 

Norris program manager Linda Luk said the events are intended to give students an opportunity to de-stress and enter a positive mindset ahead of finals week.

The NBC Peacock event will partner with the Northwestern Bookstore to include giveaways and promotions, along with streamings of “The Amber Ruffin Show” and “Saturday Night Live” on the ground floor of Norris. The Peacock event will stretch from 11:30 to 2:00 pm on Dec. 2. 

Later in the week, the horse therapy event will be run with non-profit Mane in Heaven, which offers on-site visits with miniature horses to hospitals, schools and other community spaces for therapeutic benefits. Luk said the event, which will be held in the Wildcat Room of Norris Dec. 5 from 12:30 to 2:00 pm, originated from student suggestions.

The next day’s late night breakfast will run from 11 p.m. to midnight. Luk said the breakfast was a student-favorite tradition before the COVID-19 pandemic. The staff decided to bring it back this year in the spirit of “throwback events” it has been hosting to celebrate Norris’s 50th anniversary, Luk said.

Chris Davidson, NU’s campus and community engagement librarian, said pet therapy has been a student-favorite stress reliever. Ahead of miniature horse therapy, students can also visit the large Reading Room in Deering Library to play with therapy dogs. 

“That event gets by far the biggest turnout,” Davidson said. 

NU Libraries will also provide free coffee, hot chocolate and tea in both Mudd and Main Libraries on Dec. 4 and 5, followed by popcorn Dec. 6. The “Magical Snack Trolley of Happiness will also circle Main and Deering libraries starting at midnight on the first two nights of finals week. 

In addition to food and drink, the library will organize “relief stations” on the first floor and near the core section of the library. These stations are designed to be “point of need,” Davidson said, and will include large coloring pages, jigsaw puzzles and nostalgia-evoking Wii games. 

“We want to give students the opportunity to give themselves a break because that’s such an important part of finals — making sure that you’re taking time to step away from what you’re doing,” Davidson said. “Think about something else and reset your brain.”

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