The big news in the writing center is Mark Hall’s award for Diversity and Inclusion at the UWC. Only one faculty or staff member from across UCF is chosen each year, and Mark was the unanimous choice from this year’s nominations.
Efforts to recruit tutors across these traditional race, discipline, and gender divides has resulted in a UWC which more closely matches the student writers who visit for tutoring services. Tutor diversity is an ongoing concern in many writing centers across the country, as students who apply for positions as writing tutors are typically white, female English majors. Recruitment efforts at our UWC have shifted the number of tutors with Arts and Humanities majors from 71% to 58% in the last three years.
While efforts need to continue, gender and ethnic diversity have improved as well. This academic year, for example, the writing center employs 65% female and 35% male tutors, down from a 75% female to 25% male tutor population three years ago. These numbers place our consultants at parity with the general population of students who visit UCF’s UWC, which in Fall 2014 was 65% female and 35% male. We have also increased the number of Hispanic tutors from 6% to 22%, more closely matching the population of Hispanic students served (23%).
Additionally, professional development for tutors has begun to focus on issues of diversity, inclusion, and multiculturalism. Tutor seminar (required weekly for all tutors) focused entirely on the needs of multilingual writers during Fall 2014. This course answered the call to focus writing center work around a “translingual” approach to writing where “difference in language [is seen] not as a barrier to overcome or a problem to manage, but as a resource for producing meaning in writing, speaking, reading, and listening” (Horner, et al 303). Working from Irene L. Clark’s assertion that “attention to genre has particularly important implications for assisting the marginalized student populations that writing centers are so well-suited to help and, in fact, for whom they were originally instituted” (14), this semester’s seminar is designed to helps tutors understand, recognize, and tutor academic genres, the kind of writing that is often unfamiliar to first-generation college students.
We encourage you to visit the writing center to see many of these positive changes in action. And, we hope that you will continue to support us in our efforts to create a more diverse and inclusive environment for our students and our staff.