Read Harder Covenant

A Member of the Illiterati’s Protest of Covenant’s QEP

As a sworn member of the illiterati, I am indignant after Prof. Huffines big reveal that the meaning of these cryptic posters around campus is that we should read more. I have appreciated Covenant’s lax academic environment thus far, seeing as professors here have not cared in the least whether any students read their assigned reading and students who pay tens of thousands of dollars a semester to come here have not cared either. 

But now that READ Covenant exists, I am going to break my oath of abstinence (from reading) and challenge the verbal and nonverbal teachings of the illiterati!

I kid you not, the acronym READ actually stands for what students will now, in perfect submission to their academic authorities, do for the first time. We will “read with deep understanding.” I admit, I have read in the past but never read with deep understanding. We will “engage with their learning by preparing for class.” I’ve had dreams while passed out in class where I have done this, but never awake. We will “analyze and interpret texts through writing.” I write but as a member of the illiterati, proof reading will be a first. And finally, (and most important for this member of the illiterati), we will “discuss texts and ideas meaningfully in class.” What better and more cost effective way to improve Covenant College’s educational program than to fix its errant students?

Yes, when asked by our school’s accreditation to “improve some aspect of its educational program that relates to student learning and/or the environment supporting student learning,” your fellow students, faculty, and alumni decided that us students are not working, reading, or even writing hard enough in and out of the classroom. Dragging people like me out of the Illiterati is not enough for them. This college now expects us not only to read, but to read deeply.

We have an acronym, and professors are going to barrage us with more writing assignments, and discussion questions, but the most important step is to Quit Every (other) Pursuit. If you, like me, have been precariously balancing a sea of academics and slipping away to practice your sports and extracurricular activities, Covenant thinks you probably need to rid yourself of those pesky little “c” callings to better focus on READ Covenant. 

Put down your smartphones, chop off your scroller finger, delete apps, and install blocks, and for those who have already done that, people like us, members of the illiterati, who cannot both live intentionally performing in a variety of sports, clubs, and other pursuits, and meet the high standards of Covenant Academics, Quit Every (other) Pursuit! Wake up and smell the chartwells coffee! Covenant does not do well-roundedness well.

Huffines quotes a survey in chapel “20 percent of you either often or very often came to class without completing reading assignments,” which she goes on to say, “puts Covenant pretty close to the average among our peer schools.” I agree with her next conclusion, Covenant is not average, but this statistic needs fleshing out. Covenant sends students out and they frequently perform excellently at much higher ranked universities while maintaining substantially lower grades at Covenant than they later maintain anywhere else they attend.

 Could it be that Covenant reading assignments are bigger than those of other schools? Could it be that students read with more understanding what they do read? Could it be that Covenant has a stronger moral compass and is more honest than rival schools on these types of questions? 
Forget professors, forget report cards, forget chapel talks, forget the love of learning, forget the love of academics, forget love for family, and forget our relationship with God Himself! The thing that is going to get students like me to read, prepare for class, write about readings for class, and discuss them is telling students things we know are not true. 

We know it’s foolish to believe we do not already read with understanding, prepare for classes over 80 percent of the time, analyze and critically assess the subject matter that we are studying, and discuss it in class. If we students saw college as merely a career bolstering academic credential transaction, we would not have chosen Covenant. Most of us are artists in the way we tackle the little “c” calling of being a student, and telling students to do something we constantly remind ourselves to do is patronizing. 

An academic Quality Enhancement Program titled “READ Covenant” will appease the accreditation gods but throws salt on the wounds of the hard working students, especially the members of the illiterati.