College Students Should Not Be Required to Do Much Reading, Argues Binghamton University Student—It’s Stressful

Those of us who take the time to read what college students write in campus publications need to avoid making fun of these earnest young people in a mean-spirited fashion. After all, as I have noted many times, many of us wrote silly things when we were 19 or 20. But one common theme that should be noted in the online offerings of campus publications is the employment of the jargon of disability to advocate for university policies favoring the bone-lazy.

Today’s example is a column in Pipe Dream, the campus publication of Binghamton University. This February 21, 2022 piece entitled Reading assignments are dense and difficult is fascinating in that the writer does not seem to grasp that getting a college education is going to require, well, reading and that if you don’t do the reading, you may not get a good grade. She writes:

These reading requirements may take hours. In a lot of cases, the bulk of the reading does not get done, and negatively impacts the student.

Yeah, that’s kind of the thing with college.

She goes on to lament that studying is such a bother for her:

To actually obtain all of the information thoroughly, read every word and be able to take notes on what I’ve read would probably take me hours and hours.

Yeah, that’s kind of the thing with college.

She expresses concern for those with genuine learning disabilities, but conflates those afflictions with a more common aversion to effort on the part of the temperamentally lazy:

Mentally, reading is exhausting. This is because it requires complete focus, as well as eye movement. When reading, our brains go wild instructing our eyes to reflect these images, comprehend them and create some sort of imagery in our brains.

You have to wonder how this freshman is going to be able to function in the workplace and what she expected college to entail. Moving one's eyes is exhausting, apparently. It is inhumane to expect that of undergraduates.

She sees reading as deleterious and soul sapping:

If committing oneself to completing a full reading, a student would be alone for hours, neglecting their social lives and physical well-being. This can cause students to feel sad, lonely and lethargic…

So much for engaging with one’s field of study and so much for the life of the mind.

She also expects instructors to cater to the slothful, instead of setting standards of excellence:

Teachers should adjust their teaching methods in order to reach the students they encounter.

I like to think that teachers become teachers to help student excel and not to shrug and say, “Whatever…”

With the endearing confidence of youth, the writer relegates reading to the rubbish bin on the grounds that it is not entertaining enough for the college student of today, for whom she assumes she speaks:

Reading, as a means of teaching, is not representative of the overall population of students’ preferred learning style. Reading is a means of learning that dates back centuries, but is it outdated?

Lest we think that this young woman is utterly crushed by the requirement of having to study at college, we are heartened to learn that she has big plans for academia:

Universities should investigate the implications of reading assignments…

Refreshingly, the writer of this piece, unlike some activists, does not simply want to throw some fuddy-duddy writers (like, say, Aristotle) off of syllabi. Rather, she wants there to be hardly any reading at all in higher education. It interferes with her social life.

In all seriousness, it is worrying that students arriving at college nowadays immediately bridle at the idea that education involves effort. What does this young woman plan to have accomplished intellectually by the time she graduates?

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