Letter from the student body president

Cyril Leahy ’21

I’m always curious to know who reads this section of the Index. What students and faculty enjoy reading my articles about course recommendations and important life lessons?

     While I won’t ever possibly get the answer to my question, I thought I might speak a bit about why you should read more.

     Reading at Haverford is a strange thing. Some of our most revered clubs, such as the Index, attract writers and students of all demographics and share time over written word. However, reading in the classroom is frowned upon by most students; they are either dismally bored or intimidated by the readings we see in class. 

     Technology is diluting many young people’s critical thinking skills. Absorbing nonsensical information at a constant clip, adolescents find themselves trapped as a datapoint within the infinite binary sea. We seek to achieve excellence at everything, or nothing, because we have all the resources we ever need. With so much knowledge, students are not often asked to challenge themselves and think beyond what they know because answers lie only a click away. 

     My final message to all students is an incredibly simple one: read a little more. It’s not a difficult task. Just find a good book, sit down, and try to read. Notice how difficult it is—I sure have. Reading The Big Short has been painful for me, as my mind races as I open the book and I don’t believe it’s Michael Lewis’ fault. However, reading seemingly brings the pace of my spinning gears to a slow turn, and my mind begins to soothe. Maybe it’s the beautiful texture of book paper(which I know is different from regular paper) or the inconsequential “thwip” the page makes as I turn it, but reading allows one’s mind to focus on one thing: a story. Sitting and concentrating, taking the time to process information, these are skills that your Instagram feeds and mindless Snapchatting strip from you. News will not satisfy this itch, however. Its excellent to read the news and stay informed, but the news is a now constant stream of ideas that beg for attention and time you simply don’t have; pick some news to follow, but don’t make that your reading for the day.

     I asked who reads this section because I’m curious about a larger question: Who still reads at all? Who has the nerve to challenge the information age and seek knowledge beyond what the world thinks they need and just enjoy a story? To those that read, I hereby give you the authority to claim superiority over your non-reading compatriots…but with great power comes great responsibility. I ask you to put this article in someone’s hands and give them a simple command: “Read.” See what a world of difference it makes.