College students are no stranger to sleep deprivation.
Midterms, finals and infamous 8 a.m. classes leave Student Union tables feeling like pillows, One World Café booths looking like mattresses and Tim Hortons coffee tasting like melatonin.
But what once was a campus that enabled students to nap whenever and wherever they wanted, is now being patrolled by the self-proclaimed “sleep police.”
The Instagram account, @uboutcold, launched in November 2021 and has been featuring photos of unsuspecting students passed out in public places around campus ever since.
In that short period of time, @uboutcold has accumulated nearly 3,000 followers and has featured more than 70 “sleepers,” a.k.a. resting students who were photographed mid-nap.
One of these “sleepers,” freshman psychology major Nicole Oliva, was featured on the account in November, shortly after its launch. Her post-partying nap on the Stampede bus was captured by a friend who submitted the photo to @uboutcold.
“My friend sent in the picture as a joke, and then it got posted,” Oliva said. “I was coming back from South [Campus] early in the morning after being out at a party, and I got on the bus and laid down across the seats and passed out.”
Oliva says she didn’t expect her photo to be posted to the account. But when she noticed her flexible napping habit had finally received its 15 minutes of fame, she got a good laugh from the situation.
“Honestly, I didn’t expect to be posted. I don’t know how many submissions they get in a week, so when I saw myself asleep on their page I thought it was funny,” Oliva said. “I had no problem with it at all.”
As a featured “sleeper,” Oliva appreciates the humor the account spreads and enjoys relating to other students’ exhaustion.
“I think the account is funny and relatable in some ways,” Oliva said. “If you think about it, we’re all exhausted and drained as students — and passing out in the middle of Lockwood or in Capen is just something that happens every once in a while.”
Oliva isn’t the only person who recognizes the popularity of public naps among college students. John Martinez*, one of the students behind the Instagram page, noted this common occurrence last semester and planted the seeds for @uboutcold soon after.
“Last semester I would see people sleeping all around campus and I would send pictures of them on my Snapchat because I thought it was funny,” Martinez said. “After a few weeks I realized that I had a substantial amount of people sleeping on campus, so an idea popped into my head. I was sitting in the [Natural] Sciences Complex and decided to make an account and started posting the photos that I already had.”
Martinez says it wasn’t long before students “started sending in photos like crazy,” in the hopes of having their funny pictures featured on the Instagram page. But the posting process is somewhat selective, Martinez says, with the student admins working to ensure no “inappropriate” or violating photos make it onto the page.
“Submissions are reviewed in our direct messages,” Martinez said. “We do see every DM that is sent to us, however we post in order of quality. Unfortunately, we also receive some photos and videos that are not OK to post — we just delete them. There are hundreds of photos in our DMs, so we try to post frequently to keep up with the number of submissions being sent in.”
This selection process also attempts to filter out any highly “embarrassing” photos, so that the featured “sleeper” doesn’t feel as if their privacy has been compromised. The student featured is also not tagged in the photo to keep their identity anonymous. This sifting process has kept the account operating smoothly, according to Martinez.
“It’s rare that someone wants to be removed from our page,” Martinez said. “We usually do a good job deciding what’s appropriate and what’s not appropriate to post on our page to avoid that problem. I always ask myself if I would be OK with myself being posted in the same situation and if the answer is no, I won’t post it. Posting photos of someone sleeping on public property is legal as well, so we aren’t breaking any privacy laws.”
These precautions are taken in order to keep the account light-hearted and fun, Martinez says. @uboutcold launched with the hopes of becoming a source of humor for a busy and bustling campus filled with stressed students — something it has largely achieved.
“This account was started to make an impact on the UB community by spreading good vibes and laughter,” Martinez said. “Especially since we get the bulk of our submissions during exam week when students are usually more stressed out. It’s good to make students feel like they are not alone when it comes to wanting to pass out in the middle of a lecture.”
*The page’s admin requested anonymity to preserve their secret identity.
Kayla Estrada is an assistant news/features editor and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Kayla Estrada is a senior news/features editor at The Spectrum. She is an English major who enjoys rainy weather, “Bob’s Burgers” and asking people who they voted for. When she’s not writing, she can be found hunting for odd-looking knick-knacks at the nearest thrift store.