Racial Diversity in the Writing Center

Reading this article by Barron and Grimm made me very aware that I will not only be a writing tutor next year, but also a staff member as a resident writing tutor in a freshman dorm. Certainly I do not have the same responsibility to address such issues as race as do the resident assistants, but as a staff member I realize that I must no doubt keep such issues in mind as I approach my role as a staff member.

In this article I recalled a conversation I had with my friend who will be a resident assistant next year. He spoke of the simultaneous profundity and heaviness he experienced when the RA class turned to the topic of race as an important component of student experience. I recall him telling me about students who felt they couldn’t say certain things because of their race, or students who felt they couldn’t relate to others or depend on others because of their race. It was quite a moving conversation and important for me personally as a future residential staff member.

However, in terms of its direct role on my tutoring, I was unsure of its impact. The article did not provide much advice in the way of addressing or acknowledging race in terms of tutoring writing. I would be interested to hear what the authors would advise with regards to how one should approach this cultural topic: what strategies we as tutors may employ and what ideas we may keep in mind, much in the same vein as the ESL tutoring article the week before.

Bryce Bajar, Class of 2014, Stanford University.

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4 Responses to Racial Diversity in the Writing Center

  1. Chung Cheuk Kit says:

    This article is quite inspiring as it talks about how race will affect the behavior of people. It is a topic that we may not notice before since most of us are probably living in community constituted mainly of people of our own race. So our behaviors will hardly be affected by such factor in daily life.

    How people’s behavior will be affected by racial factor when people of different races are living, studying and working together and how such effect will impact the personality development of such people are important topics since the world is undergoing globalization.

    Nonetheless, as a tutor, it is better not to hold any stereotype against any person, especially those related to races.

    Chung Cheuk Kit
    1155015922

  2. bchanchingyu says:

    I wasn’t quite sure at first what exactly writing centres are, until I looked it up on the web and realised they are usually non-credit courses offered by universities for students who wish to improve their academic, professional, business and creative writing skills. Racism happens to be a very touchy subject for some people nowadays, but then since writing centres are all about giving a hand to developing students’ skills in planning, organising and writing up essays, I suggest writing tutors can actually collect students’ work via emails or forums(students can create fake usernames if they actually want to go anonymous) instead of having them in a room sharing their work with their peers. I guess this would be a better way to avoid embarrassment when it comes to saying certain things that are related to race issues. It does no harm since it is the writing skills that the students wish to improve, not the contents of their essays that matter.

    CHAN Ching Yu Bonnie
    1155004354

  3. JACQUELINE says:

    I agree with the approach that Bonnie has brought up in the previous post. Keeping their identity anonymous could encourage students to express freely no matter which race they are in. In addition to this, I suggest that writing tutors may distribute some readings concerning race diversity in classroom in the beginning of the class to increase students’ sensitivity of race issue that they should not hold biases towards different races. This may induce “priming” effects — unconsciously aware of the fact that one should not be bond to their races to hinder their expression of views when writing.

    HO CHEUK WING JACQUELINE
    1155017069

  4. Ma Tsz Ching Jenny (1155017917) says:

    This is a very touching article. Indeed it is sad to hear that students are afraid to express their true feelings in class because of their race. I belive, as a writing tutor, the most important of all is to be open-minded and unbiased to all students, no matter what their background or race are. As mentioned by Bonnie and Jacqueline, the writing anonymously approach might be worth a try to encourage students to express themselves freely. However, to allow students to understand every race is equal and overthrow any stereotype, it is necessary for students to learn to appreciate the differences in cultures. Writing tutor should mention topics related to race in class and invite students to share their opinions. By doing so, hopefully students will learn to accept and respect the cultural differences. And with “repeated explosure”, a positive feelings will be then formed.

    Ma Tsz Ching Jenny
    1155017917

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