U’s Writing Center is underused, in danger of being erased

Since September 2003, the U’s writing center has offered free tutoring services to any students in need of help with their writing.

Located on the third floor of Marriott Library, this new program aids students in any aspect of writing, from punctuation and grammar to ideas and topics.

However, the continuing status of the program may be in jeopardy.

The need for a writing center arose from a variety of factors, said Ben Crosby, assistant coordinator for the center.

“We were one of the only schools in the country without a writing center and the only school in Utah without one. That’s really uncomfortable for a school of this size and this many levels of student writing,” Crosby said.

Crosby said that the program’s introduction was initially delayed due to financial limitations.

The future status of the program, however, is uncertain.

According to Raul Sanchez, writing center coordinator, the funding received this year for the center is on a trial basis.

“One-time funding was found from a number of sources, so we were able to start a writing center for at least this year,” Sanchez said. “Right now, we’re in the process of making the case for maintaining the writing center through next year and beyond.”

Katie Higgins, a U communication student, serves as a receptionist for the writing center. She said that the new writing center should be treated as a learning tool, not an editing machine.

“I think a major thing that we want to get across to people is that we don’t proofread papers. You don’t just drop them off here, have us correct them for you and hand them back. We don’t edit them for you,” she said. “We want to treat this more as a learning tool to help people become better writers, so we work one-on-one with you so you can recognize your own mistakes and be able to fix them yourself. We’re here to help you learn how to be a better writer.”

All people need help with their writing in some form or fashion, Crosby said-even professional writers have editors.

“Some students are actually good writers and they don’t even know it. Some students are pretty challenged writers. But they all realize they need help, and that’s a good thing as far as we’re concerned because there is no such thing as a writer who doesn’t need someone else to read his or her work,” Crosby said. “If nothing else, I think all students are in need of confirmation of what they’re doing.”

Higgins said there is a psychological element to the potential reasons the writing center might currently be an underused facility at the U.

“A lot of people may be really timid about feeling like, ‘I’m not good enough and I have to get tutored by somebody.’ But we hopefully provide an atmosphere that is more comfortable so that people feel more comfortable with getting help,” Higgins said. “It’s OK to need a little bit of help.”

Higgins also said that the free service should aid students who might otherwise be deterred.

“Sometimes it’s just hard for people to come in and have to pay for [these services],” she said.

However, while the center offers a resourceful service to students, it also abides by a stringent set of rules that have upset students in the past.

For one, students are only allowed to schedule one 30 minute appointment per day, and only two appointments in advance. If a student fails to show up for a scheduled meeting more than three times, he or she will no longer be able to schedule appointments.

Also, students that are more than 10 minutes late to their 30-minute sessions automatically have the session canceled.

“A lot of people get frustrated with nitpicky things,” Higgins said.

For further information on scheduling a tutoring time, visit the writing center’s Web site at www.writingcenter.utah.edu.

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