The Writing Center

A Hidden Resource for Students

By Ali Swee ‘16

In the midst of the whirlwind that is welcome week, students are bombarded with dozens of flyers, free food, and tons of helpful tips. However, as the months pass and the work piles up, students often forget about the many resources that Rhodes offers to help them through their college careers.

The Writing Center, one helpful resource that is sometimes overlooked, began in a small alcove in Palmer Hall, the home of the Department of English. When Barret Library opened in 2005, the Writing Center moved into its own space on the first floor. Rebecca Finlayson, director of college writing and an assistant professor of English, saw this as more than just a physical move and says, “It was an important shift in the culture of writing at Rhodes, symbolizing that writing was no longer under the purview of the English department but was instead an interdisciplinary activity.”

Whether they’re composing a history, English, or business paper, students from all disciplines visit the Writing Center daily. Typically, students schedule one or two 30-minute appointments to meet with a writing fellow—sophomores, juniors, and seniors with strong writing skills who have been hand-picked by professors.

At the Writing Center, Finlayson and the writing fellows work to emphasize “process over product,” and assist this process by giving students a chance to view themselves as writers, rather than generators of papers. “Writing isn’t just about typing and hitting print, but generating original ideas and crafting arguments,” says Finlayson.

Senior Nicole Huguley’s experience working in the Writing Center has led her to consider attending graduate school in order to pursue a career in higher education. Describing her position as both challenging and rewarding, Nicole adds that she enjoys “working with strong, motivated students who inspire me to be a better writer.”

According to Nicole, the writing fellows are trained to listen to the needs of students and then provide writing assistance. Students may bring in academic papers, cover letters, application responses, short essays, or creative writing assignments. Fellows commonly help students develop a thesis, improve organization, clarify their purpose, and support their claims with evidence and analysis. After focusing on these larger concerns, they move onto sentence structure, punctuation, word choice, and spelling. Nicole adds that the Writing Center allows students to “take a break from stressing about their papers and work with a fellow student who will help them move forward.”

Last semester, the Writing Center hosted their first National Write-In event. More than 150 students attended, and the basement of Barret was filled with writing fellows, students, faculty, and tutors. Students ferociously typed away, but also enjoyed massages, snacks, and coffee. The Writing Center will sponsor another write-in event this semester on Sunday, May 3.

Next time you’re concerned about your syntax or overwhelmed with writer’s block, head over to Barret 122 to visit the Writing Center. Be sure to check out their website to schedule an appointment, review frequently asked questions about their services, or review their downloadable e-book, A Guide to Effective Paper Writing.