The purpose of a university is to educate. However, its purpose is also to create a community with connections and support. And not all communities and education happen in classrooms. They can happen in Writing Centers as well!
A Writing Center is a place dedicated to teaching about writing and helping with assignments. They exist at many academic institutions- including Rowan University.
Rowan University’s Writing Center has existed in some form since the 1970’s. Initially, it was more similar to a “drop in situation” (As described by current director Celeste Del Russo). It evolved and expanded due to Deb Martin’s efforts in 2009. Deb Martin was the director of the Writing Center during that time. She was also a professor teaching about tutoring writing. Her students expressed interest in starting a Writing Center at Rowan University. They joined the Mid-Atlantic Writing Center Association to learn more about maintaining the Writing Center.
Because of their work we now have a dedicated community of tutors. These tutors provide one-on-one assistance to students with their writing. Their services are not reserved exclusively for essays. They help with any form of writing, from poetry to resumes. The Writing Center can even help with presentations, speeches, or multimedia assignments.
Tutors also tutor studios in conjunction with Intensive Compositional classes. This is called Studio tutoring. Studio tutoring is when one tutor meets with members of an ICC1 class once a week. During that session, they provide additional resources and feedback for the members of the studio. The goal is to familiarize students with the Writing Center while building strong foundations for healthy writing practices.
The tutors’ responsibilities don’t end with tutoring. They are also responsible for building a supportive environment for the employees, tutees, and the larger community.
One of the things she finds important to impress upon the tutors is the freedom of writing. The Writing Center is not just a place for editing work, or even just a place to read and write essays. It is a place to build long-term writing skills and practices. It is a place to explore and explain the importance of writing as an activity and concept. Ellie believes that in order to teach this to the students, the tutors must have the freedom to understand it. Ellie states, “...Giving Writing Centers freedom to help students with the writing process, with the development of skills rather than specific assignments, and to move beyond just looking at grammar and spelling is how Writing Centers are able to do our jobs.” The support the Writing Center is able to provide for tutors gives them the stability and freedom to explain writing in a multifaceted and complex way.
The environment of the Writing Center also helps make students more comfortable with their writing. Celeste Del Russo, the director of the Writing Center, explains that the center prides itself on inclusivity. She ascribes this inclusivity to the efforts of the tutors. They actively worked to make the environment accessible and enjoyable to the students. This is done in their teaching, their friendly attitudes, and even decorating for holidays!
The Writing Center in its environment, resources for all majors, and freedom for the tutors and students work together to create a community that is both educational and accessible to all. They improve to do this even more - by expanding into the community.
They are already working on this goal with their events on campus. One such event is “Long Night Against Procrastination”. This is once a semester event that is in collaboration with the librarians at the Campbell Library. During this event the Writing Center stays open later to provide resources, help, planning, food, and DIY de-stressing activities to help students work on their final assignments. The next “Long Night Against Procrastination” is planned for this November.
There is another big way the Writing Center plans on expanding into the larger community. They will soon be connected to the Rowan University Writing Project. The Rowan University Writing Project is designed to help K-12 teachers grow as writers and leaders in their professional lives through collaboration, workshops, and more. This not only helps the teachers, but ideally will deepen their students’ grasp of writing and allow them to use these skills in their lives, communities, and future careers.
The Writing Center is going to support these goals. They do this by sending tutors to elementary schools to discuss and teach writing. They also will organize poetry events, book readings, and more at elementary schools.
Additionally, there is a third and way the Writing Center is planning on supporting the community. On Friday, October 20th, they will be hosting events for National Day of Writing.
These events will go from 9:00AM to 2:00PM in the Campbell Library. This event will commemorate National Day of Writing. During this event there will be snacks and candy, as well as writing related activities. There will also be raffles for Cookie Munchers coupons.
This is the perfect event for those interested in experiencing the welcoming and freeing environment of the Writing Center!