All About the Writing Center

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All About the Writing Center

Bella Simons, Staff

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Have you ever had trouble writing a paper? Do you ever have issues with grammar or coming up with ideas for your essays? Then the Marian University Writing Center is the place for you! There, other students can work with you by reviewing your paper and offering suggestions to make it better. It has helped me a lot this year to improve my papers, and I would definitely recommend it.

The writing center, located in the library, helps students by helps students become more confident in their writing abilities. The Marian University website states, “Whether you’d like to sound out ideas before writing them down, discuss strategies for organizing and developing written thoughts, or want extra help in charting revisions and edits, Marian University Writing Center tutors are eager to work with you.” This shows that at the Writing Center, tutors are happy to help you to improve your paper.  

Recently, I talked with Erik Hvidston, a sophomore who works at the Writing Center, and he told me, “I started by doing lab hours, which is a great service we offer here where you can work with a lab instructor. My passion for writing, in general, inspired me to take a position here.” I also conversed with Taylor Trepanier, a senior tutor, and she reported, “I had a friend who worked here, and she was a really great writer and super encouraging. She was like, “You should apply!” In addition, the staff at the Writing Center clearly do not regret their decision to join the team. I also interviewed senior Therese Miller, who replied to my question by saying, “I came here as a writer. I was tutored several times here… and I was interested in the writing process. One day after class, someone asked me, ‘Hey why don’t you work at [the Writing Center]?’ and I’ve been working here ever since.”

When I asked Taylor what she likes about working there, Taylor replied, “I really like the atmosphere and the people here because everyone here is super accepting.  It’s really flexible with schooling.” As a reply to the same question, Erik stated, “Just the really friendly environment; you get to have a lot of fun here, and it’s great when you come and you work with anyone who doesn’t think they’re good at writing. I get to collaborate with them and just get to see their different writing styles is just inspiring for me to continue writing. We accept people who are students, alumni, or people who aren’t associated with Marian at all.” This shows that the Writing Center is very accepting and helpful. Aaron Wilder, the assistant director, replied, “I absolutely love writing centers. I love being able to get to know people in a quick snippet and just being that very fleeting part. I like working with literacy because it is very foundational. I like working with the students, the tutor coordinators, and the instructors. We attract great people, people who are just very genuine and they very much want to do well.” The Writing Center sure does do well! When I asked Therese, she delivered a lovely answer: “I like the fact that I feel like I’m making a difference. I don’t think a lot of people can say that with part-time job. I also like the environment and the people I work with. I also like having the ability to help other people on campus, and I feel like I’m able to do that in this position, which is nice.”

When asked if there’s anything they don’t like from working there, the answers from the employees were very similar. Erik, in response to the question, said, “I think the base concern I had was when classes start to get a little heavy, but with the environment, I can take time to get schoolwork done. We stress to have a non-stressful environment.” Clearly, working there will not impact the time to complete homework. When I asked Taylor this question, her reply was, “Sometimes there are extra things outside of work that you can do to contribute to your work, but there’s not a lot. Starting out as a tutor, there is a one credit class you need to take for training and it is a bit of work, but I enjoyed the reading and it is worth it to work here.”  

Aaron Wilder said as a response to my question, “It can get taxing.  It’s emotionally exhausting. Being that person who has to create a connection with someone in a short amount of time is very emotionally labor intestine. Emotional labor is kind of a big deal because people come in with a lot of stuff.”  

My last question was, “What have you learned about helping students with their papers?” and the responses were uplifting.  Aaron replied, “What haven’t I learned?  It’s really hard to pick a thing. I think the biggest thing I’ve learned is how to listen. How to listen to people, rather than words. People talk and they say words they want to say and sometimes they don’t want to say, and you need to take in a whole person rather than words. You have to digest everything that they’re giving to you and you’ll have to react appropriately.” Essentially, working at the Writing Center teaches you to listen to others. Erik stated, “We see it more as a collaborative task. We see it as they want to get a second opinion, so it’s more like a collaboration. Maybe I can spark a passion for writing.” Also, Taylor responded, “In order for you to be helpful with the writing process, you need to meet the student where they’re at, and knowing their background allows you to help them get their words across and to portray ideas that were lost in the wording. Each tutorial is different and you have to customize it to the writer. There is no elaborate formula for the perfect tutorial.” Even though tutors lend their knowledge to others, they also learn from tutorials. “One thing we talk about a lot in here is funds of knowledge, and basically what that is, is we can tell people from diverse backgrounds often have diverse sets of knowledge. They don’t always talk like I do, but they have a lot of unique and interesting perspectives. They actually can teach me things. I can learn a lot on the job just by interacting with the people who come in here,” says Taylor. I find that it is inspiring how in an environment meant to help the student learn more about writing, the tutor also learns something as well.  

Have your considered working there as a tutor? Well, here is some guidance. First off, you must apply. If there are openings, they should be present on canvas either as a tutor or a tutor coordinator. If any curiosities about open positions or the job description, feel free to reach out to the directors of the Writing Center. If you apply and are accepted, you must take English 208 preferably as you begin. The title of the class is Peer Tutoring of Writing and Collaborative Learning. This class is available as a one credit course for any student to take, but is the key into being allowed to do your job once you get it. As you start your job, you will have to commit to ongoing tutor training, which requires shadowing other tutors and be ready to have bi-semester meetings with the directors and once a month meetings with the whole crew.

To conclude, the Writing Center is a great place that helps students become more confident in their writing abilities. It is a very accepting place, full of creative individuals. The hours are 9 A.M. to 9 P.M. Monday through Thursday, and 11A.M. to 5 P.M. Friday. While it is closed Saturday, it is also open from 3 P.M. to 9 P.M. on Sunday (the ideal for all those last-minute papers). Come check it out!