Welcome to the Student Success Center!
The Student Success Center celebrates and supports critical literacy and professional development through in-person and online tutoring, workshops, classroom presentations, and faculty support. Working on a draft of a particularly challenging research paper? Struggling to articulate an answer to an interview question? Feeling lost in the search for peer-reviewed source materials? The Student Success Center at WCU in Philadelphia can help!
Welcome to the Fall 2021 Semester!
- With the start of the fall semester on August 30th, the success center will provide in-person or virtual appointments. All students are required to wear a mask during in-person support sessions. We encourage the use of synchronous and asynchronous virtual supports. Thank you for your patience and flexibility!
- Thank you to everyone who submitted work to the MSW department's student-led, open-access, peer-reviewed journal, VOICES.
What you can expect at the success center:
- A free, 30- or 60-minute session with a trained and knowledgeable tutor
- A friendly, professional environment offering one-to-one attention
- Thoughtful discussion about your writing or research (ideas, strategies, strengths,
and areas for improvement)
- Organize a paper (Outlining, question-storming, mapping, etc.)
- Discuss a draft of a class assignment
- Familiarize yourself with APA Style (Formatting, citing, abstract, etc.)
- Find journal articles and other sources using Google Scholar, Library Services, etc.
- Learn a writing concept
- Career development feedback
- Look over career documents (resume, cover letter, CV)
- Conduct a mock interview
- Access Handshake (Career Network)
We encourage you to make use of the success center as an antidote to procrastination and a source of accountability. Think of our support as a resource for generating ideas, revising your work, and receiving feedback. Be careful not to treat the success center as a last-minute fix-it shop, which reinforces bad study habits or may create co-dependency.
FALL 2021 HOURS
Beginning August 30th, 2021
Monday through Thursday: 1pm - 9:30pm
- Friday: 1pm - 6pm
(NOTE: If it’s your first-time using the success center, review these instructions for scheduling an appointment.)
Student Success Center Antiracism Statement
Racism is a broad and shifting framework of discrimination. Black people in the United States and Indigenous people face an ongoing and particularly virulent form of racism due to our country’s collective will to deny and disappear the ongoing legacy stemming directly from the theft of land and the genocide of Indigenous peoples and the enslavement of Africans. We acknowledge the afterlife of these issues by referring to Black, Indigenous, and other people of color (BIPOC), as opposed to thinking in terms of an undifferentiated group of People of Color (POC). This acknowledgement underscores that in the United States the past is present.
This past presents itself in our disposition to language. Many view "Standard English"
as a static mode of professional communication, yet linguists have argued for decades
that there are many Englishes (Black English, Hawaiian Creole, etc.) which feature
the same rhetorical and grammatical complexity and are often held in contrast to but
in fact inform the development of this always shifting "standard." In this sense,
"Standard English" is an illusion used to deny access and power to speakers of other
Englishes. Additionally, the current reality of anti-immigration policies mean that
speakers of other languages, or any individual who was born in another country, is
potentially disadvantaged in educational and work settings. “I can’t understand you”
is too often used as a reason to dismiss and disadvantage students and workers. Language
is a site of racism.
Writing Center Statement of Intent
We are tutors and your peers. We start from the assumption that finding an academic or professional voice is an evolving and often collaborative process. We offer you a reflective space from which to rehearse your academic moves. We also share what we have learned about good academic writing and give you suggestions about how to navigate college courses. We invite you to talk about your professor’s expectations and requirements. We talk with you about the conventions of academic writing, about your writing style, your voice, and your language choices. We work from the belief that no one needs to erase their natural language in order to establish an academic voice. We believe mastering academic and professional language is about integration, developing self-awareness, and being open, curious, and creative in the process.
Please Reach Out with Any Concerns
We always want to do better. If you have a concern, or have bad experience in the writing center, including but not limited to a bad experience related to prejudice against your language, please contact the Associate Director of the Student Success Center, Ben Morgan (firstname.lastname@example.org).
POSITION STATEMENTS FROM SCHOLARLY ASSOCIATIONS:
There is a lot to read here, far too much for one sitting. Providing this bulk of sources is intentional and rhetorical. Browsing the titles and dates, you can see how the WCU Writing Center’s position acknowledges the breadth and trajectory of research in Writing Center Studies, Composition Studies, English Education, and Linguistics. In fact, this stance has been mainstream since the 1970s when the National Council of Teachers of English took the position of “Students’ Right to Their Own Language.”
From the International Writing Centers Association:
IWCA Position Statement on Racism, Anti-Immigration, and Linguistic Intolerance
Readings for Racial Justice: A Project of the IWCA SIG on Antiracism Activism
From the Conference on College Composition and Communication:
CCCC Statement on Ebonics (1998, revised 2016)
CCCC Statement on Second Language Writing and Multilingual Writers (2001, revised 2009, reaffirmed 2014, revised 2020)
CCCC Guidance on the National Language Policy (1988, updated 1992, revised 2015)
Students’ Right to Their Own Language (1974)
From the National Council of Teachers of English:
NCTE Position Paper on the Role of English Teachers in Educating English Language Learners (2020)
Understanding and Teaching Writing: Guiding Principles (2018)
See especially, Principle 2.2: Writers bring multiliteracies, and they bring cultural and linguistic assets to whatever they do.
Resolution on the Student’s Right to Incorporate Heritage and Home Languages in Writing (2011)
Resolution on Social Justice in Literacy Education (2010)
From the Linguistic Society of America:
What is “Correct” Language
LSA Issues Statement on Racial Justice (2020)
LSA Statement on Race (2019)
Resolution on the Arizona Teachers' English Fluency Initiative (2010)
LSA Resolution on the Oakland “Ebonics” Issue (1997)
SCHOLARSHIP UNDERPINNING THE POSITIONS OF COMMUNICATION PROFESSIONALS
No one says it’s easy to teach language equality in the context of academic writing. Here are what some of the authors cited here have to say about working in the writing center:
Writing center practitioners often feel an institutional pressure to participate in the effort to mainstream “different” sounding/looking texts. Also, we often feel a sense of immediacy from sitting next to writers who radiate a sense of distress…in these moments, we want to allay that distress. Yet writing center practitioners’ worry about helping multilingual writers succeed in the university as it currently exists may have caused writing center studies to focus too much on the needs of the institution at the expense of the needs of multilingual writers—the individuals and communities with whom we actually work and to whom we are accountable. In providing tips and strategies for helping multilingual writers meet instructors’ (monolingual) expectations, for instance, we have failed to help multilingual writers thrive as individuals and writers with agency. (Bobbi Olson, “Rethinking Our Work with Multilingual Writers”)
I talk to the student about audience and how some people might view their writing and misjudge their capabilities and label them as dumb or having a “cognitive deficit.” I use the language “as a reader this is what I see,” “some readers may interpret this as…” “you as the author have choices.” Then and only then—after I’ve informed the student—do I say “well what do you want to do?” I let them choose. Never once am I forcing any agendas. Never once do I say that their codes are only useful in the brainstorming portion of an essay and then must be erased for fear of judgment. Never once are their codes and their use seen as a crutch or deficit. My approach is very ally centered. (Neisha-Anne Green, in “The Re-Education of Neisha-Anne Green,” p. 78)
Because I am focusing on the ways writing center practices may be complicit with racism, it may seem that I am suggesting that students of color are always newcomers to academic discourse. That is not true. However, it is sometimes true, just as it is also true that many white students are newcomers to academic discourse. My point is that when writers are newcomers to a discourse or a culture, a writing center should be a place where they can expect to find someone who knows how to make discourse and cultural expectations explicit. Too often writing centers are staffed by members of what Jacqueline Jones Royster (2003) calls the “well-insulated community that we call the ‘mainstream’” (616), and that needs to change because the insulation makes it difficult for them to identify the expectations and assumptions they have always taken for granted. (Nancy Grimm, in Writing Centers and the New Racism, p. 77)
Annotated Bibliography of Writing Center Sources:
Young, Vershawn Ashanti. “Should Writers Use They Own English.” In Writing Centers and the New Racism : A Call for Sustainable Dialogue and Change, edited by Laura Greenfield, and Karen Rowan. Utah State UP, 2011. 61-72.
Young, one of the foremost scholars in Composition studies, writes this essay entirely in Black English. Rather than just argue that the language of his nurture is eloquent, he also shows it. The essay is an argument in opposition to an opinion piece by Stanley Fish in The New York Times. Young begins with an epigraph from Fish’s article: “First, you must clear your mind of [the following...]: ‘We affirm the students’ right to their own patterns and varieties of language—the dialects of their nurture or whatever dialects in which they find their own identity and style.’” Young has a difference of opinion.
Greenfield, Laura. “The ‘Standard English’ Fairytale: A Rhetorical Analysis of Racist Pedagogies and Commonplace Assumptions about Language Diversity.” In Writing Centers and the New Racism : A Call for Sustainable Dialogue and Change, edited by Laura Greenfield, and Karen Rowan. Utah State UP, 2011.
Among other important contributions to the conversation on linguistic diversity in the context of composition instruction, this article explores assumptions and contradictions inherent in the idea of “Standard English,” a linguistic, rhetorical, and embodied abstraction which, regardless of the liberatory intentions of teachers and tutors, is always an unwieldy assemblage of power.
Green, Neisha-Anne S. “The Re-Education of Neisha-Anne S Green: A Close Look at the Damaging Effects of ‘A Standard Approach,’ the Benefits of Code-Meshing, and the Role Allies Play in This Work.” Praxis: A Writing Center Journal, vol. 14, no. 1, July 2016, pp. 72–82.
Part memoir and part pedagogical treatise, this essay by celebrated writing center scholar Neisha-Anne Green describes both her journey as a multi-dialectical speaker and writer to integrate, not erase her linguistic identity. She also proposes concrete techniques for working with writers to ensure they maintain control of their language choices, while also getting the clear instruction they are asking for. One of the topics she handles is balancing where to state a grammar correction, and where to discuss a language choice.
Coenen, Hillary, et al. “Talking Justice: The Role of Antiracism in the Writing Center.” Praxis: A Writing Center Journal, vol. 16, no. 2, Mar. 2019, pp. 12–19.
The authors of this article are graduate students working in a writing center who offer a narrative of their process to create a compassionate and mindful antiracist training module for tutors and administrators. Key to their project and the article’s implications is the exploration and evocation of vulnerability and openness for participants of the training. Only through disruption of our comfortable, often “color-blind,” assumptions about race and racism can we formulate strategies to counter its effects.
Olson, Bobbi. “Rethinking Our Work with Multilingual Writers: The Ethics and Responsibility of Language Teaching in the Writing Center.” Praxis: A Writing Center Journal, vol. 10, no. 2, 2013, pp. 1–6.
The author reminds us that writing centers are complicit in processes of language “gatekeeping” and makes the case for an ethical shift in our understanding of multilingualism. While many academic and professional contexts understand multilingual writers as deficient in their use of “Standard English,” shifting our perspective to explore how multilingualism promotes a complex, creative orientation to language allows for a rich understanding of rhetorical, contextual, and hybrid features of discourse.
Charity Hudley, Anne, et al. "Linguistics and race: An interdisciplinary approach towards an LSA statement on race." Proceedings of the Linguistic Society of America, vol. 3, no. 1, 2018, pp. 1–14. Accessed 15 July 2020.
This article calls for more attention to the historical significance and interdisciplinarity of the concept of “race” within the research area of linguistics. The authors provide an extensive review of linguistics literature at the intersection of anthropology, sociology, and education, among other fields of study. This call for a collective “statement on race” can be understood as a desire to collectively acknowledge what has been erased or omitted from previous research and why, to navigate the difficult and sometimes painful process of contextualizing a concept which is always expanding and evolving, and to conceive of pathways forward that allow for rich interdisciplinary work with liberatory ends.
- Ben Morgan (he/him), Associate Director of the Student Success Center, is available for 1-to-1 or group tutoring with students interested in improving their writing, conducting research, or developing professional materials such as resumes and personal statements. Ben is also available as a faculty resource to facilitate group workshops and classroom presentations.
Tya M. Pope (she/her) is an MSW candidate holding an undergraduate degree in Women’s Studies and Political Science with a concentration in Public Law and a graduate degree in Public Administration with a concentration in Nonprofit Leadership from the University of Delaware. Tya has worked most of her career in community nonprofits until the last five years which has been in higher education administration. Her most recent role was at Washington College in Student Success and Retention. Tya plans to use her MSW degree to provide therapeutic support to young adults from marginalized populations. In her spare time, Tya enjoys cooking, reading, going to concerts, aerial yoga, boxing, acting, and spending time with her son and friends who have become family.
Ryan Brossa is a first year MSW student with a background in English literature and queer studies. He completed his undergraduate degree in English literature at Ursinus college and his Master of Arts at the University of Delaware (UD). He is currently ABD at UD, with his dissertation focused on the intersections of literature, pop culture, and queer rights. For the last seven years he has been an instructor in the English Department for the University of Delaware, primarily teaching writing and working closely with first-year students to ensure their successful transition into college. Ryan is passionate about academic transparency and accessibility for students. He currently plans to use his MSW to pursue advocacy and policy regarding trans access to healthcare.
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The Career Development Center assists with:
- Exploring career options
- Finding internships and full-time jobs
- Writing a resume and preparing for interviews (including online practice interviews in Ram Career Network)
- Applying to graduate school
To schedule a 30-minute phone appointment, please call (610) 436-2501.