Writing Center Searching for Space on the Scripps Campus

By Megan Petersen '15, Copy Editor

The Writing Center at Scripps College has good news and bad news. The good news is that it has held more tutoring sessions—160 sessions since its opening on Sept. 5—than any year in recent memory. The bad news is that the Writing Center is currently housed in its smallest space in four years.

The Writing Center used to be housed in Balch Hall before being moved to the Frankel- Routt annex. When the Student Union opened last October, the Student Activities and Resi- dential Life Office (SARLO) moved to the Frankel-Routt annex and The Writing Center moved to the Humanities Building. During the 2010-2011 academic year, the Writing Center was able to use the classroom of Humanities 121 when classes weren’t in session. This year, the Writing Center mainly uses Humanities 230—formerly the slide library—and occasionally makes use of Humanities 121 during non-class hours when Humanities 230 gets too busy.

Veteran tutor Natalie Butterfield (’12) explained the Writing Center’s predicament: One of the Writing Center’s two spaces—Humanities room 121—is on the first floor. Since this space is also used for holding classes in the Humanities Building, the downstairs classroom can only be used when class isn’t being held there. Most of the tutoring goes on upstairs in Humanities 230, which was originally designed to be offices and is divided into two rooms. The smaller room can fit one tutoring session comfortably, and the larger one can fit two or three. Voices echo in both rooms, making it difficult for students to concentrate and hear their tutors if more than a few students show up at once. Staff meetings are impossible in this small space, since the Writing Center currently employs 12 student tutors. Room 230 is also too small for Writing Department faculty meetings.

Visiting Assistant Professor of Writing and Writing Center Supervisor Glenn Simshaw said that sharing the larger space of the downstairs classroom is particularly disappointing. “We wanted to hold grammar workshops [and other events] during lunch, but class is being held there during that time.”

Both Butterfield and Professor Simshaw acknowledged that space across campus has been stretched thin by recent increases in faculty and students. “I don’t feel like we’ve been singled out,” Butterfield said.

But Butterfield still feels that the Writing Center ought to receive more attention. She said that, in her experience, Scripps professors—with the exception of most first year classes—rarely urge students to visit the Writing Center. Butterfield also said that she thinks the Writing Center ought to be a more integral part of the College. “I think [the move from Frankel-Routt to Humanities] says something about the priorities on campus.”

Elisabeth Pfeiffer (’15) voiced similar sentiments. “It’s important to have activities, but I think writing is important too.” Pfeiffer said that she managed to go to the Writing Center on a slower day and therefore had a great experience, but a friend who went in to see a tutor on one of the Writing Center’s busier days had to be told to come back later. This problem, Pfeiffer said, might be solved with more tutors, longer hours for students to get in to see the tutors and a space more conducive to writing.

But for now, the Writing Center is still opening its doors for students. “This is still a valuable service no matter where we do it,” said Professor Simshaw.

The Writing Center is located in Humanities 230 and is open Monday through Thursday from 4-6 p.m. and 7-9 p.m. and Sundays from 7-9 p.m.