by Alicia Dye | staff columnist
Feb. 17, 2022
Among a hallway of boring doors, one stands out as it is decorated with hearts, just in time for Valentine’s day. The room itself is dark, but on purpose. There are snacks and coffee available, and the room is full of smiles and laughter. The Writing Center, located in 216 College Hall, is this room radiates fun and positivity.
While many may see the Writing Center as a tool for getting help with essays for classes, the Writing Center can do so much more than that for students. It offers feedback on any stage of a paper, and they even give feedback on resumes, websites, creative writing and more, all while creating a positive environment for students.
“We want to create a supportive atmosphere so they can be better [at writing],” said Jim Purdy, director of the Writing Center.
Purdy has been the director of the Writing Center for over 13 years and wants students to have a positive relationship with writing, that’s why the center tries to create a community with students by doing more than just helping with essays. The Writing Center has writing contests, most recently a Valentine’s Day contest, where students picked one literary character and wrote a valentine to said character. The contest is still ongoing until Feb. 18.
“We want to celebrate fun writing, too,” Purdy said.
The Writing Center also does workshops on different writing topics. Past workshops include “Returning to your Writing Post Pandemic” and “Teaching the New MLA 9th Edition Citation Style.”
Beyond that, the Writing Center staff wants students to feel confident about their writing and to see students succeed. The center doesn’t just help undergraduate students either, they help faculty and graduate students as well.
Many of the staff at the Writing Center are students as well. They are a mixture of graduate students, as well as undergraduate students, all of whom vary in major and writing specialty.
Claire Neiberg is one of the undergraduate writing consultants. Neiberg has been a consultant at the Writing Center since fall 2020, and specializes in professional writing, but helps with all genres. Neiberg wants students to be able to have a comfortable conversation about their passions and writing.
“I strive to create an environment where students feel comfortable talking to me and just having a conversation about what they are working on/are passionate about,” Neiberg said.
Kaitlyn Harris is a new staff member at the Writing Center. Harris is a graduate student who has experience writing in MLA format, but loves reading papers of all types.
“I’ve helped people with graduate school applications, nursing papers and even cover letters,” Harris said.
Rochel Gasson, the assistant director of the Writing Center, wants students to know that they can bring any type of writing project to the center.
“Students can come in at any time and at any point of their writing, any field of study. Bring in your business assignments! We can help,” Gasson said.
Gasson and the writing consultants always try to make the room have a comfortable environment, hence the snacks and coffee being available for anyone who goes in. The overhead fluorescent lights are turned off, with the windows being the only source of light. There’s even a brag board in the corner of the room, where students and staff alike can brag about anything, even something small.
“Sometimes we put ‘getting out of bed’ as the brag. It’s the little things some days that we brag about,” Gasson said.
Most importantly, the Writing Center wants to be approachable, and wants to be somewhere where students feel empowered, Purdy said.
“We create a culture of kindness. We want them to feel empowered as writers, free of assessment,” Purdy said.
Gasson wants students to leave the Writing Center feeling more secure in their writing.
“This is a brave space! There’s no judgment here. We want to help everyone realize they are a writer,” Gasson said.
The Writing Center also does a program called Community Writing Center, where staff of the center provide after school writing education for families in the Hill District and Homewood areas. The program launched in fall of 2020, and has since grown.
Students and faculty can get involved with the Writing Center by making an appointment on their website and by walking into College Hall 216. Appointments can be in person or on Zoom. Students who are strong writers can also apply to become a writing consultant on the Writing Center website. Work study is not required for the position.
“Come stop by, say hi, get some candy! This is a place to hangout,” Gasson said.