The Writing Center at Mudd

Hey guys! This week I wanted to talk about one of the on-campus academic resources, the Writing Center. The Writing Center provides students with peer-on-peer support for papers, writeups, and any sort of written documents. Last Friday they had their Happy Hour event, which I attended, so I sat down with Blake to talk about what he does as a consultant in the Writing Center! Below is my interview with him, as well as some photos from the event.

Blake, smiling, pouring a glass of champagne.

Blake serving a drink at Writing Center Happy Hour.

Q: What is the goal of the Writing Center?

A: I think the goal of the Writing Center is to act as a continual sidecar to all writing at Mudd, especially Writ 1 and HSA 10, to help make sure that people are able to reach their potential at writing.

A table of food with writing center consultants setting up.

Setting up!

Q: What do you do at the Writing Center?

A: I’m a consultant, which is really the only job at the Writing Center. This means that I hold hold two shifts of three appointments a week where people come in with papers. I help provide direction and feedback on these. I also help with the other Writing Center things such as the Writer’s Block party and write-ins that we host sometimes, as well as Happy Hour. Occasionally I also represent Mudd at conferences for the Writing Center, and while hosting things for the Upward Bound program.

A line of students leading to a refreshments table.

Show out was great, but that also meant a long line!

Q: Do you think that people use the Writing Center enough?

A: We have a lot of stats on who uses the Writing Center. I don’t know off the top of my head, but I think like 60% of our appointments are first year students, and 30% of all appointments are required. Which means kind of? People definitely use the Writing Center, but we mostly see first year students. I mean really it’s first students and then people in engineering clinic. So because we generally know who we’re going to see, we base a lot of our schedule around that. We have more shifts when HSA 10 has drafts due for example. We do want more people to come to the Writing Center, though. We recently did the Happy Hour event, where we give out strawberries and champagne, and the real goal of that is to get people to give us a chance after being required to come to the Writing Center. We work to cover lots of different types of writing, but we don’t really get to practice a lot of what we learn, because people don’t come in with cover letters and things like that.

A picture of cheese on a cutting board.

They had strawberries, but I am a real cheese man.

Q: What is the major representation at the Writing Center like?

A: It’s definitely spread out. We may not have every major, but we definitely have every subject area if you count combined majors. We also have a lot of different humanities concentrations, which is pretty unique for our writing center. Most writing centers have English majors and Literature majors, and we don’t have any of those. We don’t even have very many literature or writing concentrations, I don’t think.

Students sitting at a table.

I’m in this one! I didn’t actually take all of these photos.

Q: Is there anything else you want people to know about the Writing Center and what it offers?

A: I think the most common feedback, which makes people kind of peeved, is that we’re pretty non-directive in our consultations. I think the common stuff that people get out of the writing center is just having another set of eyes on your paper. When you’re writing a paper, it’s easy to put something down and tell yourself, yeah, this makes sense. But I think one of the most common pieces of advice I give people is that I’ll ask them, oh, what does this sentence mean, and they’ll give me a second sentence which makes it very clear what it means, and my advice is just to write that down. The Writing Center a very good place for finding out how much you need to put in your paper so someone like me, a consultant can understand it. That’s the kind of thing that most people know is beneficial, but it’s difficult to find time to do it, and it’s also difficult to find someone to listen to you. But the Writing Center will take at most 40 minutes, often less, and is a good place for you to do that. Another thing that some people come to the Writing Center for a lot and other people don’t consider is that in HSA 10, when you write a research paper at the end of the year, it’s not necessarily fun, but you end up with a really good paper, most times, solely because you have to do all the little steps beforehand. I’m not going sit here and tell you I do all the little stuff, like evidentiary outlines, and lots of drafts, though I know I should. But, getting Writing Center appointments, at least for me, is a good way to create those false deadlines. So I’ll make an appointment for 3 days before a paper is due, and though I can come in with nothing, I’d rather come in with something, so and outline or a draft or something. And we think it’s good enough that even the consultants use it. You know there’s the saying “Don’t eat the food that a chef wouldn’t eat”, and we use the Writing Center.

A high shot of the event, with students throughout.

Good job to the Writing Center for holding a great event.

That’s it for this blog! Thanks for reading.

A picture of a dog being pet.

There was also a dog!