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Green Library’s secret reading stash


Graffiti might technically be against the rules, but that hasn’t stopped hundreds of students from scribbling little messages on the desks in Green Library. I never noticed them until a few weeks ago, when, exhausted from reading my math notes, I stared off into space, desperate for something to think about that didn’t involve matrices and linear approximations. To my surprise, students had carved little messages all over my desk, some motivational, some cerebral and some frankly nonsensical.

Ever since that day, I always look for messages at the desks in Green Library, and I’ve found some rather amusing ones.

(CAROLINE DUNN/The Stanford Daily)
(CAROLINE DUNN/The Stanford Daily)

There are the motivational words scrawled by frantic students. I imagine a tired freshman, bored out of his mind from studying chemistry for 10 hours, scribbling a word of encouragement to himself and all his fellow students when he fears he’ll fail his chem midterm.

“Own this shit bro!!”

“Fell dead J”

“Kill it!”

“Good luck! You can do it! Thanks!”

“We can do this!”

“Keep going!”

Some students like to go above and beyond (this is Stanford, after all) and give some helpful words of advice. Some of my favorites:

“It’s okay to be on cruise control for a bit.” Whoever wrote this, I envy your sense of calm.

“When you finish, you can DRINK.” Um, I guess that’s one way to look at it.

“AC Outlet”(with helpful arrow pointing to the outlet). This is actually maybe the most helpful advice I’ve found on any of the desks. I had no idea that there were outlets until then.

Some students use the desk to collect public interest polls. Someone is apparently very curious about this question: “Should we be allowed to openly strike children in public?” Two people even responded, one with “no, only at home,” and the other with “especially on airplanes.” All I can say is that I hope they are joking.

Unsurprisingly — since this is, you know, a library — there’s a lot of complaining over assignments. One graffiti artist poetically bemoaned: “I am really beyond the grave and [sic] no more assignments, please.” Another student furiously jotted: “Damn! Too much homework!” To which someone pithily replied, “It’s ok to be angry and continue working.” OK, thanks for the advice, wannabe psych major.

Some of this complaining seems to stretch to general derision for Stanford. One student happily scribbled “We all <3 Stanford” (perhaps a freshman in her first few weeks, still dewy-eyed over the miracle of attending Stanford). Underneath it, someone else added, “lol — not really.” Or as another group of students put in a rather antiquated conversation (Who needs texting these days? We just write to each other on desks …):

“Academia has no purpose”

“What does?”

“Without strength and drive”

But lest we forget our immense privilege, another student added: “Look at where you are right now. You’re at Stanford!”

(CAROLINE DUNN/The Stanford Daily)
(CAROLINE DUNN/The Stanford Daily)

Some notes move away from academia into professions of love. There’s an “I love you MOM” and a general “we love you!” An intriguing pair of initials encased in a heart — but scribbled out. Someone pining for a crush perhaps? And most intriguing of all: “I still think of you.” I imagine a girl pining for her ex-boyfriend, distracted from her CS homework by a reverie of their past love.

Finally, there’s some people who really must have been studying too long and just lost it:

“How strange it is to be anything at all” — some nice ruminations on the reasons for our existence. Potential philosophy major? A really bored Stanford student wondering why they couldn’t have just been born a plant and happily cruise through life drinking sunlight and happily sprouting flowers?

“Orange shade Blue light I’m still here” — I can’t tell if this is about being trapped in the library for hours upon end or if this aspiring poet just hasn’t slept for two days.

And finally, a lovely person who wrote this:

“I am a little world made cunningly of elements and of angelic sprites.”

“Me too dude.”

“I feel you.”

Only at Stanford, people.


Contact Caroline Dunn at cwdunn98 ‘at’

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