Illustration by Davit Jintcharadze

Student Burnout Triggers Fire Alarm

As the semester nears its end and stress continues to wear down the student body, burnout is spreading like wildfire across campus.

Nov 17, 2018

Last Tuesday, Flint Steele, Class of 2021, spontaneously combusted when his burnout reached levels never seen before. This incident triggered A5C’s Fire Warning and Suppression System, flooding his entire floor and forcing the residence hall to evacuate. In fact, so much water poured out into the room that the UAE issued a severe weather advisory and several nearby concerts were canceled.
This emergency came as a surprise to many, as Steele appeared solid in his extracurriculars and continued to shine academically. In fact, he had averaged three whole hours of sleep for the previous three nights, a monumental feat for students of his caliber.
“I don’t know what happened!” explained Steele from his bed in the Health and Wellness burn ward. “I was totally managing my five courses, two assistantships, four Student Interest Groups, six friend groups and the three cats I hide in my room. Then, all of a sudden, I wasn’t.”
As Steele fell behind, his health rapidly deteriorated. “Blacksmith and the Library Cafe would drain my dining dirhams by Thursday of the first week, so I switched to an IV drip of pure caffeine instead. When I would go to the convenience store, they would charge me two dirhams for the bag under each of my eyes.”
But at 3:28 p.m. last Tuesday, it all caught up with him. Trying to finish the one assignment he didn’t already have an extension on, he got an email from a prospective summer employer stating that “due to limitations within our department’s budget we are regrettably unable to hire you at this time.” Questioning why he bothered with any of it and succumbing to his physical exhaustion and cynicism, he curled up into a ball on his bed and burst into flames.
All of A5C’s residents were escorted by Public Safety along the planned evacuation route. “It felt like the university was pushing us down a specific path,” said one of the evacuees, “but the directions were so vague that we just followed the people around us. It was confusing and frustrating that we were headed somewhere we were told was best for us, but how to get there or what we’d do once we arrived was entirely unclear. On a totally unrelated note, we evacuated across the highline.”
Steele’s case was not unique. During midterms, one student felt so overwhelmed and dejected upon flipping through her entire exam and only finding five questions she could answer that she too triggered the fire alarm with her burnout. This explains the peculiar evacuation back in October.
But beyond these two cases, as the semester nears its end, burnout is spreading like wildfire across campus. Walking through the dining hall, it's quite common to hear phrases such as, “your GPA is just a social construct, like money or protein.” Additionally, several professors attempted to court students during Spring enrollment by adding “napping in class will not detract from your participation grade,” into their course descriptions.
As counselors begin filling their offices with buckets of water, they advise that all students should know their limits and respect their own capacity. Unfortunately, most of the students who need to hear this message are too busy, too tired or too apathetic to hear it.
Ian Hoyt is a satire columnist. Email him at
gazelle logo