Writing Center Sees Spurt in Popularity

The Writing Center, a campus resource designed to help students with papers, has seen a significant rise in popularity this semester.

"The numbers are way up," said Maxine Rodburg, director of the Writing Center. "We're quite busy."

Since the start of the fall term at least 10 to 20 students have made scheduled appointments each week, she said.

Rodburg said she attributes the increased popularity of the center to visits by writing tutors to first-year Expository Writing classes.

"I went to about 15 freshmen Expos classes [so that students] could attach a face to the Writing Center," said Jennifer L. Burns '98, one of the undergraduate tutors.

Another tutor, Kelsey W. McNiff '98, said she believes the center is more popular this year because of its new and more central location.

"Location! Location! Location! The Barker Center is such a central place," she said. "People say they will just stop by in between class and lunch."

The Writing Center was previously housed in Vanserg Hall, which is located near the Divinity School on Oxford Street.

"To turn in my application last year I had to walk for half an hour in the snow, and I was thinking: Why would anyone bother?" Burns said.

Many students also said the new location makes it easier for them to visit the center.

"It was just a total pain," said Cristen M. Hodgens '00. "[The center] is so much more accessible this year."

The new location also offers more space for private meetings between pairs of students and tutors, according to Hodgens.

"Last year, space was kind of public," she said. "This year, it's more personalized."

"The Barker Center is much better," Burns said. "We have more rooms for conferences [compared to] last year when people were in the halls."

In fact, this semester the Writing Center has become so popular that some students said they had difficulties scheduling appointments before their paper deadlines.

"It's a good sign," Rodburg said. "It means the interest is there."

If the program's demand continues to increase, Rodburg said, she will make efforts to expand the program to accommodate the needs of all students.

The Center mostly attracts first-years enrolled in Expository Writing classes, according to Rodburg, but she said that it is designed to offer writing assistance to students involved in any kind of writing.

A Helping Hand

Many students and teachers said they agree that the Writing Center is a valuable resource.

"[The center] was very useful," said Emily C. Blanchi '01. "It helped me clarify ideas and focus my paper."

Burns said, "A lot of Expos teachers have been supportive."

And many writing tutors said that their work is often more fun than work.

"Sometimes the conferences are just an intellectual conversation," Burns said.

McNiff, who is a new tutor this year, has helped her friends with papers over the last few years and said she has derived satisfaction from helping her peers.

"It's not like I'm a teacher," she said.

Students can visit the Writing Center's World Wide Web page at http://www.fas.harvard.edu/~wricntr and sign up for appointments on line