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Writing Center Unveils Design Changes, New Initiatives
The Writing Center is making strides towards increased accessibility and approachability.
The Writing Center is getting a makeover this semester. The peer tutoring group’s physical location in the Leland Speed Library now features a refreshed layout and new furniture. These changes, in addition to new and upcoming outreach initiatives, are products of the group’s larger goals for the Writing Center, which involve fostering awareness, comfort, and community.
According to Writing Center Director Lingshan Song, the physical changes to the space have been in development for years.
“We had some casual conversations the year before last year, but it was still kind of the end of COVID, so we still had the COVID restrictions,” Song said. “It wasn’t realistic to open up the space yet, but we were thinking about it.”
Since their informal inception in 2021, the design changes were largely developed and executed by Writing Center student workers. Maria Guay, current Writing Center Student Director and former Interior Design Coordinator, has made major contributions to the redesign.
“She added a coffee station with snacks, coffee, water, and she kind of decorated the space, organized it in a better way,” said Song.
Last year, under Guay and former student director Ethan Hulshizer, the Writing Center also implemented new lighting fixtures, instrumental music, and interactive elements, like a Question of the Week board.
Guay, in conjunction with Song and Writing Center Social Media Coordinator Merrin Meyer, further refined the center’s aesthetic this year. The unofficial design team chose new furniture to add to the space, including a communal high-top table and several beanbags. They also rearranged the Writing Center’s existing furniture, reorienting the space’s couches, chairs, and tables to establish areas with different functions.
“We moved our couches around to make, again, that more communal aspect – to put it in an L shape so people get to talk to each other. Gives it a bit more of a cozier vibe,” said Guay, “but people have, again, that individual space to work on their own stuff.”
The Writing Center staff seeks to encourage students to utilize the Writing Center not only as a resource, but also as a study space. Guay and Song call this vision the “studio” concept.
“I think this provides a good space for students to work because we really wanted to emphasize this whole ‘studio’ idea, where the Writing Center’s not just a place you go, you get your paper edited, you leave, but it’s an open space for people to come write and come study,” Guay said.
In addition to the physical changes, the Writing Center has also taken on many new outreach initiatives this semester. Last Monday, they kicked off a limited run of a satellite location in Alumni Hall, set to operate Monday through Friday from 9-4 until this Friday, Oct. 13.
“The purpose of the satellite location isn’t to replace the Writing Center or to be a secondary Writing Center, but ultimately to inform students of how we can help them in the Writing Center, and to also do quick sessions,” Guay said, “It’s a lot more informal, but ultimately to encourage and inform students of the library Writing Center and how we can help them.”
Other projects in development for the Writing Center aim to update and expand their online resources, including their website, LibGuide, and blog. Cole Jones, Outreach Specialist for the Writing Center, is spearheading the website overhaul.
“For the website, I really want to make a space where it is very easily accessible and less overwhelming,” Jones said.
Through these changes, the Writing Center staff ultimately seeks to become and be perceived as an accessible, approachable space for students.
“It’s making sure that they know, one, we exist, and two, they’re not coming in here and feeling awkward,” Jones said.
“Yes, it’s a place you can go for your writing and your academic help,” said Guay, “but it’s also a place where you can find community, as well as growth in your academics because that is ultimately our mission statement, our purpose. Build confidence in writing, develop your writing and thinking skills – but also another part of our mission statement is to welcome everyone.”
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