Virginia Wei: Editing the Writing Center

Whether you are a chronic procrastinator or a perfectionist, at some point in your academic career you will likely experience overwhelming panic upon realizing that you have a paper due and that you need desperate help. The GW Writing Center is a great resource when this dreaded time comes, but there are some serious flaws in its policies that are especially problematic for international students.

The Writing Center’s hours are a significant inconvenience for students on the Mount Vernon Campus, many of whom are international students. The Center has tutors at both Gelman Library and Eckles Library, but while its office at Rome Hall is open every day of the week except Saturday, only two tutors a week come into Eckles at Mount Vernon – and only from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. on Sunday nights.

According to Dr. Evelyn Schreiber, director of the GW Writing Center, of the 147 sessions the Writing Center offered at Mount Vernon last year, only 14 were attended. “That is a huge difference compared to the program that we do in Gelman, where there are hardly any free slots.”

Contrary to the statistics, students do want them there, and the Writing Center should take the circumstances of living on the Mount Vernon Campus into account.

“During the week, we just have too much other work to do to be able to make a trip to Foggy especially to get our paper checked,” freshman Negue Kong from Korea said. “Just a couple of hours (on the weekdays) would do.”

More than one-eighth of the students living at Mount Vernon are international, said Seth Weinshel, the director of GW Housing Programs. For many of these students, English is not their first language, and they can benefit the most from the help of the Writing Center’s trained tutors. Currently, they are not getting sufficient writing help simply because their Mount Vernon housing assignment makes it difficult.

Students also struggle with the quota on the number of hours one individual can have per week. Each person is only allowed a maximum of three sessions a week, with each session not exceeding 50 minutes, according the Writer Center’s Web site.

International students who struggle with the nuances of the English language need more help than students who need an occasional difficult assignment checked over. Tanya Zulfra, a freshman from Turkestan asked, “What if I have more than one paper due that week?”

The Writing Center is a helpful resource for those that take advantage of it, but there is definitely room for improvement. The quota should be removed or at least changed to allow more time for the students that really need it. More sessions throughout the week at the Vern would also make a world of difference.

Until we see those changes take place, Mount Vernon and international students beware – the next time your head goes blank while staring at that assignment, the Writing Center may not be always there.

The writer is an undecided freshman.

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