All-night studying can take deadly toll

The dangers of pulling an all-nighter during finals week do not end when students hand in their exams.

On May 16, MU student Emily Stoll drove to her home in Festus after completing her final exams. Less than three miles from her home, Stoll fell asleep behind the wheel and was killed when her car hit a median on Interstate 55.

"I think the accumulated lack of sleep during finals week contributed to the accident," said her father, Steve Stoll.

Stoll said Emily had gone to sleep at 3 a.m. the night before a 7:40 a.m. final exam. Throughout the week, she had not slept much so she could study for finals, Stoll said.

While Stoll said he realizes students will pull all-nighters, he said if they were more careful, many accidents could be prevented.

"Students need to think about what could happen," he said. "For some people, [Emily] is just another name or face. They don't think it can happen to them, but I guarantee it can happen."

Stoll said about half an hour before Emily's accident, she called home and said she was tired, but she would sleep when she got home.

"Emily was a night person," her father said. "She used to stay out until very late at night" that's when you worry about kids. You don't expect anything to happen on a nice day in May at two in the afternoon."

If students feel tired behind the wheel, Stoll recommends they pull over for coffee or a soda, roll down their windows, turn the radio up or even pull over to sleep.

Students might drive when they are tired because most residence halls close during finals week. Students are required to be out by 6:30 p.m. on the last day of finals, or 24 hours after their last exam.

Residential Life Director Frankie Minor said this rule is designed to maintain a "consistently quiet atmosphere" where students who are finished with finals will not disturb students who still need to study. However, for students who think they might be too tired to drive after taking their last final, MU does offer some options.

"Any student who feels they have extenuating circumstances can talk with their hall coordinator to seek an extension to allow them to stay beyond the deadline," Minor said. "The hall coordinator, based on the circumstances, will often allow the student to stay."

Freshman Jayne Nucete said she's in a good position this year because her finals end early, but she wouldn't appreciate being "pushed out" if she had a final on the last day.

"I'm a little worried about [falling asleep]," she said. "But I won't leave until I'm ready to go."

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