Ruth Barton Writing Center Looks to Redefine Students’ Definition of Writing

After 564 appointments and 310 students tutored during Block 1, the Ruth Barton Writing Center reflects on a near-record number of students using its services. The record number of appointments was set during Block 1 last year, with 694 appointments, but the lower number this year did not mean significantly less work for the tutors. The 564 appointments, at 40 minutes each, totaled to 421 hours of tutoring during Block 1. During the last few days of the block, every appointment was booked.

Nestled in the southwest corner of the newly-renovated Tutt Library, CC’s Writing Center offers tutoring for college writing assignments across all disciplines. Students can simply make an appointment online at the Writing Center website with whichever student or professional tutor they choose. Open six days a week, the Writing Center is a resource widely available to the student body, but utilized by only a portion of the students. During Block 1, 401 of the 564 appointments were with first-year students, making up the vast majority of tutoring time.

Lobby in the Ruth Barton Writing Center. Photo by Daniel Sarché

Writing Center Director Tracy Santa emphasized the importance of the Writing Center for first-year students in particular: “If we are focusing on first-year students in their first block, you want to get them accustomed to the sort of expectations the they need to meet as college writers,” said Santa. “Some professors feel it is on the student to figure out those expectations.” He feels the Writing Center offers a unique opportunity to help students adjust to those expectations.

That being said, Santa was quick to point out that not all first-year students need the kind of directive help that other students do. In a broader sense, the Writing Center is “working to help students learn how to stretch the boundaries of what they imagine writing can do or be, and also learning how to negotiate that with another live human being,” Santa said.

Many students come into college with an idea that writing needs to be an extremely personal endeavor, without outside collaboration or assistance. Writing, Santa says, doesn’t have to be that way. “Writing shouldn’t be a private letter with a faculty letter,” said Santa. “So, by imposing ourselves into the writing process, someone else is listening.”

The Writing Center employs nearly 40 student tutors, in addition to three full-time professional tutors: Director Tracy Santa, Associate Director Katrina Bell, and Writing Center Specialist Roy Jo Sartin. Administrative Assistant Anna Webb is the other member of the full-time staff. To be hired as student tutors, prospective students must first be recommended by a faculty member, and then after completing an application, may be invited for an interview. If all goes well, students are then invited for enrollment in the GS300 “Theory and Practice of Peer Tutoring” over Half-Block and the second semester adjunct GS395, “Peer Tutoring Practicum.” The Half-Block course and adjunct, taught by Santa, aim to adequately prepare students for tutoring at the Writing Center.

Even with all the theory, Santa is quick to note that real tutoring is what makes tutors better.“Tutors are trained practitioners improvising,” said Santa. “When you sit down, you need to figure out what the student is doing and where they’re at, with information you have just been presented with.”

As Block 2 gets into full swing, the Writing Center remains a unique and accessible resource for all students at CC. The Center is open Monday-Thursday 10 a.m. to 10 p.m., Friday 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., and Sunday 2 p.m. to 10 p.m.

Nathan Makela

Nathan Makela

News Editor
Nathan Makela is a junior at Colorado College. He has previously worked as a News Intern at the Colorado Springs Gazette and is currently News Editor at the Catalyst. As a Creative Writing major and Journalism minor, Nathan enjoys the intersection between reporting and storytelling.

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