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  • Grace Brown

Welcome to the Wondrous Writing Center, Where We Help You Write

Gee Singh (left) works with tutor Mason Bowes (right) in the well-lit and wheely-chair-filled Writing Center. (Kyra Laurie for The Griffin)

By Grace Brown, Columnist

Most members of the Canisius community are aware of a fabled Writing Center on campus. But the location, logistics and legend of this mysterious resource are unbeknownst to most.

Simply put, the Canisius College Writing Center is a space for students of all majors, classes and backgrounds to come in order to receive assistance with their writing. This help can be provided by specially trained tutors at any stage of the writing process, both online or face-to-face in the spacious, well-illuminated and unintimidating space in which it resides on the second floor of the library, just past Tim Hortons.

In-person appointments can be booked and availability can be viewed using the website, available on the Canisius Student Home page under “Student Services” and “Writing Center.”

According to the mission statement printed clearly on the bottom of this page, the “Canisius College Writing Center exists to help writers in all disciplines become better writers.” It promises a commitment to “thoughtful dialogue” in order to foster trust between tutors and students, and consequently promote the learning for every individual in their own, unique way, at their own pace.

To achieve this, tutors practice humility and sensitivity, meeting each student where they are in the writing process and loving them — yes, loving — for their academic ability. Due to the vulnerable nature of writing, tutors are also responsible to consistently value the intellectual ideas of students without exerting influence.

Likewise, students must have faith not only in the ability and investment of their tutors, but in themselves as well. They must learn to love — yes, again, love! — their own work for what it is. Tutors will engage with all students as though they are entirely invested in the progress of their own work, just as the tutors are themselves.

Not all colleges have a writing center, making the Canisius College Writing Center a unique fixture of the campus. Accordingly, one would expect it to be well-utilized. As of the present, this is not the case, likely due to either widespread unawareness or misconceptions about its workings.

Many students learn of the Writing Center only by chance, through the advice of professors. This results first and foremost in an incorrect assumption that the Writing Center exists primarily to help allegedly “bad” writers.

As mentioned before, the Writing Center aims to assist writers of all skill levels in improving their work. This could take the form of merely proof-reading and receiving some positive affirmation from a fellow student. Tutoring sessions can also focus on grammar/punctuation, outline organization, sentence structure or other presentation-type work. Tutors are also there to assist students in formulating ideas and finding effective ways to communicate them.

All tutors in the Writing Center are trained in the areas of both quality and content via a class offered each fall through the English department here at Canisius. Expertly taught by the genial Dr. Graham Stowe, tutors are well-versed on how to approach each tutoring session in a confident and prepared manner.

If you (as a reader) are interested in becoming a tutor yourself, you need only have completed ENG111 or HON101 to enroll. As a tutor myself, I would highly recommend it; our work environment is peaceful and positive, and earning a slight side hustle during the long weeks of the semester can be extremely helpful.

The second–most likely reason the Writing Center is underutilized is because students and professors alike do not understand what actually happens inside its welcoming doors. As previously explained, tutors are stationed within — at the ready — to greet and assist writers of all backgrounds.

However, though this assistance can take many forms, it does not ever take the shape of tutors writing papers for students. Likewise, tutors will never supply their own thoughts for students to write about. Papers are not to be “dropped off” for tutors to slave over and “picked up” at a later time. Tutors work alongside every student, offering supportive and constructive guidance on their journey to more effective and efficient writing.

Contrary to the popular belief of many professors, the Writing Center does not exist primarily for the function of fixing citations. In fact, given the varied citation preferences of each academic field, tutors generally struggle with citations just as much as other students do. The interests of the Writing Center lie more so on the successful interpretation of assignments and professional articulation of a student's response.

If there is still residual doubt in the minds of any readers as to where the Writing Center is, who works within it, what its goals are or why it is a staple establishment of the Canisius community, do not hesitate to contact myself, other tutors or to simply walk in to say hello.

We don't bite.

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