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  April 8, 2002

Writing Center Adds Locations
on Campus, Extends Services
By Rachel Stein

In an effort to offer writing help to more students across a wide range of subjects, the Writing Center has opened several new locations on campus.

In addition to the Center's main office in Room 159 of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Building, satellite offices have opened at Babbidge Library, the Asian American Cultural Center, and in Northwest Campus residence complex.

The co-directors of the Writing Center, Laurie Cella and Andy Maines, emphasize that the Center can help students writing in all areas, not just English. "Last semester only 18 percent of students coming were outside of freshman English classes, but this semester that number is up 30 percent," says Cella.

"The Writing Center is good for writers of all levels and in all subject areas," says Maines. "Students can come in just to brainstorm ideas or to get help structuring a paper. I don't know of anyone that can't use help on their writing."

On average, the Writing Center tutors 1,000 students a semester. It is staffed by 16 peer tutors, who are strong writers and have been selected for their outgoing personalities. Maines says he has found that talking to a peer, rather than a professor, helps students open up. Without any barriers, more can be accomplished during a tutoring session.

The tutors encourage students to take the lead. They let them talk about their writing problems and ask them to come up with their own ways to fix structure and content. Tutors are not allowed to write on student papers. "The only way we help with grammar is to teach the student how to edit their own paper, but we do not edit papers for any grammatical mistakes," says Maines.

The tutors at the Writing Center may not have knowledge in all subject areas. But they can still help with writing issues. "Sometimes the tutors will act as if they have no prior knowledge of a subject, just to get the tutee talking and figuring out problems with a paper," Cella says.

Many of the tutors have received training in techniques that can be applied to help both native and non-native English speakers during tutoring sessions, through a class offered by Maines, English 296: A Tutoring Practicum. The class has become so popular that Maines says in the future all tutors will have to take the class before becoming a tutor.

As well as assistance with academic work, the Center offers graduating seniors help with cover letters for job applications. The Writing Center also provides tutoring for English as a Second Language students, a service now offered through the satellite office at the Asian American Cultural Center.

"One plus to the expansion of the Writing Center is that at the Asian American Cultural Center we can give students more time to work with a tutor. Instead of the usual 30-minute period, our tutors will give more time to help ESL students," says Anita Duneer, ESL coordinator.

Tutors encourage ESL students to bring in their assignments, so they can work together to understand what the professor wants in the final paper. "Sometimes, the problem for an ESL student is not just content and structure, but that the student does not understand what the professor is asking for in an assignment," says Duneer.

"Most ESL students are used to writing papers in their own language, with different structural techniques. At the Writing Center we try to discuss American structural techniques, so the student knows how to structure the content of a paper," she says.

The Writing Center also offers a "Tutor-for-Hire" program that provides English instructors with a tutor to assist them during class. The Tutor-for-Hire program was formed originally to assist ESL students in class, but now has expanded into help for all students. The program is open to all "W" class instructors who would like assistance with their classes.

"Some of the Tutor-for-Hire tutors have a following, and their students frequent the Writing Center for help in all classes," adds Cella.

The Writing Center has received positive feedback from professors whose students have used its services. "We just want professors to be aware that the center is here and that it can really benefit the students writing no matter what level classes they are taking," says Maines. "I have never spoken to a professor who did not think writing is important."

The Writing Center and its satellites are open during convenient daily and nightly hours seven days a week.

The Writing Center will host an art show during April. Student artwork will be showcased in CLAS Room 159.

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