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a writing center newsletter

Spring 2017 Issue

From the Mentor Consultants

A university writing center staffed by students is necessarily cyclical in nature. Each new year brings new interns and new hires, each with their own take on what we do here. As they sit in on consultations and develop their own strategies for giving feedback, the Writing Center grows too. But each new year also means losing a generation of consultants and their methods. That is partly what we hope to address with this newsletter: recording and sharing institutional knowledge so that all of us can continue to benefit from one another’s experience.

As Mentor Consultants, we already seek to do this. We have grown as consultants, from volunteers to new hires to experienced tutors. Now, we are peer leaders who maintain the institutional goals and values of the Writing Center. We draw on our experience to be a resource to other consultants as well as to students, all while continuing to learn, ourselves. We encourage our writing center team to emphasize the importance of putting the student before the paper. We believe it’s important to identify the barriers that students and teachers have, so we find ways to collectively create discussions that acknowledge both the importance of academic writing while not stripping the writer of their identity. Luckily, we have a plethora of resources to draw from. Writing center and language theory drives our conversations both in and out of the workplace.

One resource discussed in the following pieces is maintaining respect for student voice and language variety. This is because, in an academic setting, Academic English, as a discourse, is typically valued above all other patterns of writing. In creative works, students may be discouraged when their professor grades with a grammar focus instead of reading for student voice, figurative language, or imagery. In more formal works, the content and argumentative techniques are too often overlooked in favor of proper citations and rigid adherence to a specific structure. As consultants, we aim to foster these students’ voices and counterbalance the discouragement they might face.

We’re a group of diversely talented students committed to reflection and self-improvement. We all have things that we do better than others; we’re not assembly line consultants. Our unique talents make our service what it is. Much like students come to the WC for another perspective, the consultants learn from the multiplicity of perspectives among their cohort. This newsletter is a space for that. Let a particularly challenging meeting with a student be an example to other consultants.  Share your favorite ways of encouraging a student’s agency while sticking to the prompt’s requirements. This is our space, and yours.

We hope the following pieces are thought provoking and reflective of our work and beliefs at the Writing Center. We cannot include every experience and situation we encounter, but perhaps we can give you a glimpse of our work. Thank you.

Spring 2017 MCs
Grace Reed – Andrew Kissinger – Anthony Morley – Navya Kaur – Kenyah Thomas – Celestina Hendrickson

Active Voices is a collaborative endeavor of the WSU Undergraduate Writing Center consultants.