Common reading program needs follow through or remain canceled

Posted: Thursday, April 24, 2014 10:00 am

Common reading program needs follow through or remain canceled

The bookworm in me was disappointed when the Common Reading Program was cut. The pragmatist in me knew the program was probably largely ineffective. Which it is, whether it be from lack of participation from the students or from a failure to follow through with the program’s potential. The idea was for the book to be integrated into Boiler Gold Rush and general education courses, which had been promised but never delivered.


I can’t say I was upset when the University Senate said they would revisit the program. It certainly needs an overhaul, from the reasons I stated above. However, bringing it back around raises the question that hurts my heart to write: do we really need the program, or is it simply the politically correct thing to do?

It makes us look intelligent to say we, at Purdue, have a reading program for our incoming freshmen, that we incorporate these wonderful, eye-opening books into Boiler Gold Rush and freshman classes. However, as the sentiment has been echoed by students throughout campus, that ideological follow-through of the chosen literature being important to a student’s freshman year simply does not happen. Even if we bring the program back, will that fact change? Most probably not.

The even bigger question is whether or not students will continue the negligent participation rates the program has seen in the past. I belong to a major with classes where reading is required, and I have seen classmates skim by without reading the majority of the required texts.

Apologies to all my English teachers who might be reading this right now. We’re not all ideal students.

We belong to the age of 140-character-or-less status updates and telling stories through 10-second Snapchats. The death of the Oxford comma is fast approaching. In fact, the amount of people who have actually read this far into my column are a handful, simply because I haven’t put a GIF of a cat in here somewhere.

Thank you for reading this far, by the way. You restore my faith in humanity.

Everyone should be able to read a 300-page book. Honestly, it sickens me that there are those who choose the “too long, didn’t read” way of life because they miss out on the rich, wild worlds books have to offer their readers. But I am not speaking as the girl with her nose perpetually stuck in a book. I am speaking as an individual who recognizes when it’s time to cut her losses.

If this program is to be brought back, then follow-through is the absolute biggest factor that must be implemented. The Common Reading Committee must work to see to it the book they are charging incoming students with reading is put to good use both during BGR and freshman English classes. Have the books integrated into ENGL 106 or 108 or into general education classes. Most of these books are the first brush with politics or controversial issues students will see at a college level; if this can be managed efficiently, then rejoice: the Common Reading Program has done its job.

But if this is not feasible – or should the desire not be there for those who wish to revive the program to help see this sort of actualization – then let the Common Reading Program stay canceled. No one wants to see their fellow students read a book or two more than I, but at a time when the University is trying to cut costs and President Mitch Daniels’ administration seek to trim away the fat, we can’t afford to be idealistic. Even if it means we lose out on a program with so much potential.

As Mark Twain said, “A person who won’t read has no advantage over one who can’t read.” At this point in time, we can only hope Purdue students choose not to be either.

Bekah Ticen is a senior in the College of Liberal Arts. She can be reached at opinions@purdueexponent.org.

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Thursday, April 24, 2014 10:00 am.


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