The Cadre recently had the opportunity of speaking to the UPEI Writing Centre coordinator, Robin Sutherland and assistant Mark Currie, to talk about the Writing Centre’s upcoming open house on Tuesday, January 19. The Writing Centre moved to a new and larger location in the Robertson Library back in September and the open house is aimed to showcase their new space and to put a fresh face on the Writing Centre.
“I think it’s a celebration of how far the Writing Centre has come” says Currie, as he explains his vision for the open house. Currie says that the larger space almost symbolizes the development of the Writing Centre over the past years in terms of the amount of students they assist, the creative projects they tackle, and their growing presence on campus. When asked about the Writing Centre’s current exposure and reputation across campus and how such an event could promote the Centre, Sutherland says that the purpose of the open house is to showcase their new location, make people aware of their location and bring them in, and to highlight their partnership with the Robertson Library.
Sutherland says that the biggest misconception about the purpose of the Writing Centre is that students think the Writing Centre is an editing service, where students can just go and get errors in their papers fixed and where these errors could be fixed in one appointment. Currie also adds that he thinks there is a stigma to the Writing Centre, that it is a remedial service for students who do not struggle with writing. He explains that the Writing Centre is for everyone because no matter where your starting point is, writing is a process and there is always room to improve.
When asked about the open house itself, Currie says that it will be an event that will allow people to experience the new space and learn more about the Writing Centre and what is has to offer.”It’s very much a ‘come as you please’ kind of event,” Currie clarifies. “You don’t have to stay for the entire two hours it is going on.” Snacks and refreshments will be offered and the Writing Centre staff will be there to welcome people and talk about what they do and the essence of the Writing Centre. “Writing is, by nature, a solitary exercise,” says Sutherland, and she hopes that this event will provide a new face to the solitude that often comes with writing and will create a sense of community that is dynamic and approachable.
“Handing over your writing to somebody else is a very brave act,” responds Sutherland and she explains that everyone working at the Writing Centre understands that fear and so do faculty, who have had to present a lot of their research and who have received feedback from their writing. Sutherland wants students to know that they do understand that takes a courage to entrust writing to somebody else and that they are very empathetic. Currie adds that for those students who do not believe they need any help with their writing, he believes that it will not hurt to have a second set of eyes because writing is developmental and will always have room for improvement. Sutherland also says that writing tutors themselves use the services provided by the Writing Centre so there is a community of writing support that is created.
When asked about how the new space has affected the work or the atmosphere of the Writing Centre or its atmosphere, Sutherland says that the atmosphere is a lot lighter physically because of the area’s surrounding glass windows and that their new location is a lot more spacious, adding to a more conducive work environment and allowing them to work with a lot more students. Currie adds that he feels that there is a nice balance of the social and camaraderie that surrounds writing as well as the writing appointments themselves because there is enough space for all of it. Sutherland also comments on how their old location was in a small room situated behind The Pit which was not too visible nor physically welcoming on weekends when the lights would be switched off outside the room. Their new location is a lot more visible which Sutherland believes helps remove the stigma of the Writing Centre being a remedial service.
“I’m not ashamed of what it is that we do,” says Sutherland, “and we celebrate writing. We celebrate struggling writers and and we celebrate accomplished writers and I think that the new space is apologetic and it’s there.” Currie adds that there has to be an understanding that writing is a requirement in the university setting so the sense of fear and stigma that might come up should be erased. “Everybody has to write,” Currie says.
The Open House will be on January 19th from 3 – 5PM at their new location at Room 397 of the Robertson Library, at the back of the Learning Commons. To learn more about the Writing Centre and its services, be sure to stop by!
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