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Art student creates ‘Cry Closet’ for stressed out college students during finals

SALT LAKE CITY – An art installation at the University of Utah campus is turning heads and sparking a buzz on social media during finals week.

At Marriott Library, students fill the floors with the sounds of flipping through books, reciting facts and information, and shuffling through notes. They're summing up a semester's worth of work, in preparation for their brains to be picked.

"We have two tests tomorrow and then another one on Friday, and then another one next Wednesday," U of U freshman Chidi Ahanonu told KSTU.

"They load us up with finals like you wouldn't believe," said Jayden Skinner, another freshman studying biomedical engineering.

Crying might be heard as the stress and pressure builds up.

Ahanonu said there's certainly, "the need to relieve some stress."

In the middle of a walkway at Marriott, graduating College of Fine Arts senior Nemo Miller built a space just for that: The Cry Closet.

The makeshift room features a narrow door, and inside, dark fabric lining and a plush floor filled with stuffed animals. A timer hangs on the inside of the door, and two dome lights provide low ambient light.

On the outside of the door, a framed page reads: "A Safe Place for Stressed Out Students."

"This space is meant to provide a place for students studying for finals to take a short 10-minute break," the note states.

On Wednesday evening, students stopped at The Cry Closet to take pictures and step inside. While some laughed at the novelty, others checked it out with quiet reflection.

Those who have seen it took to Snapchat, Twitter, and Facebook to share pictures and talk about the small safe space.

Skinner said that's how he found out about The Cry Closet. Others, like Ahanonu, happened to wander by and noticed the curious pop-up room.

There are a few simple rules to abide by, outlined on the door. They include: Knock before entering, only one person in the room at a time and don't stay longer than 10 minutes.

"It's a great place to just come and decompress, and that's really what it's for," said Jana Cunningham with the U of U communications office.

She said the university offers counseling to students who are feeling especially overwhelmed, but that The Cry Closet is great for students who need a moment in all the stress.

While students like Ahanonu and Skinner said they themselves might not use the room, they think it's a great idea.

"I just think it's good to be able to get away for a minute," Skinner said.

The Cry Closet will stay in its spot for students to use until May 2.