The Writing Center at UW-Madison has a long history of commitment to diversity, inclusivity, and social justice. All of us on staff work hard to make our programs and spaces welcoming for all students, to developing the multicultural capacities of our staff, and to prioritize programs that support social justice on our campus and in the city of Madison. We are also deeply committed to partnering with campus and community programs that are campus and community leaders in diversity, inclusion, and social justice. Below is a sampling of some of our current commitments.
Educating Writing Center Instructors
All new Writing Center instructors participate in an orientation at the beginning of the semester and a professional development proseminar that meets weekly during the first 9 weeks of the semester. These training foster instructors’ ability to work with all writers across campus and help them develop skills to provide a welcoming atmosphere and culturally sensitive services for our campus community.
In addition, returning staff members participate in ongoing education and staff meetings where we regularly discuss diversity, inclusion, and social justice as they relate to writing center work.
For example, topics for recent staff meetings have included “Meeting Students Where/As They Are,” “Diversity Dialogues,” “Understanding the ESL Designation and ESL Program at UW Madison,” and “Examining the Learning Needs of U.S.-Educated Multilingual Writers.”
Recent ongoing education topics have included “Revising the Inclusivity Section of Writing Center’s Website,” “Creating a Culture of Access: Universal Design in the Writing Center,” and “Responding to the Campus Climate Survey.”
Working with Campus and Community Partners
In partnership with the university’s Multicultural Student Center and the Center for Cultural Enrichment and the Residence Halls, we have had satellite locations in the MSC and CCE for over 20 years and in more recent years in the Black Cultural Center in the Red Gym.
Off-campus, our Madison Writing Assistance (MWA) program offers free, one-to-one writing support for community members at libraries and neighborhood centers throughout the city.
By offering Writing Center services in these locations, we strive to be actively present throughout the Madison community to support all students and the Wisconsin Idea.
Advancing Online Options
We have offered online writing consultations for over 20 years, in order to make our instruction more accessible for part-time, non-traditional, and differently-abled students.
Working across several modalities, our Online Writing Center gives students the opportunity to receive detailed feedback on their writing projects both synchronously through Virtual Meetings and asynchronously through Written Feedback.
For a wonderful discussion of how important the Online Writing Center is for supporting equity for student-writers and for instructors, please see a post on our Writing Center’s blog by Maggie Bertucci Hamper.
In our Writing Center’s blog, Another Word, our staff and our alumni often write about topics related to culturally-sensitive practices in writing centers and build community with likeminded staff from other universities. Here’s one example, written by several graduate tutors: “With, Not For: Building and Strategizing Diversity in the Writing Center.”
Supporting our Campus Partners
We partner with the McBurney Disability Resource Center to provide flexible, accessible writing consultations for student-writers with disabilities.
In order to broaden our perspectives and learn from our campus partners, we co-teach workshops with staff from across campus designed to enhance our knowledge and routinely engage in continuing education.
We also offer twice-weekly writing assistance to students in the Odyssey Project, an educational program that provides adults in the Madison area who are facing economic barriers an opportunity to start college for free.
Each year we offer outreach instruction, introductions to the Writing Center, and study jams with many campus diversity programs, including the Posse Program, the Undergraduate Research Scholars Program, the Advanced Opportunity Fellows Program, the Center for Educational Opportunity, the Multicultural Student Center, the Adult Career and Special Student Services, the PEOPLE program, the McNair Scholars Program, the Gender and Sexuality Campus Center, the Latinx Resource Fair, the Office of Veterans Services, the Multicultural Graduate Network, Black Graduate and Professional Student Association, and others.
Cultivating Writing Groups
In partnership with the Advanced Opportunity Fellows Program in the College of Letters and Science, we offer a weekly graduate writing group for AOF scholars from historically underrepresented groups.
In 2019, we began offering an online writing group, which provides accountability and community for graduate students working on large writing projects accessible for off-campus, part-time, non-traditional, and differently-abled students.
Providing Workshop Instruction
Our workshop “Communication Your Writing Accessibility Needs” provides a supportive environment for students with disabilities to practice communicating writing accessibility needs to course instructors and advisors.
The “Working with Multilingual Writers” workshop gives instructors strategies and approaches for helping multilingual students (for whom English is a second language) succeed with writing tasks in their discipline-specific courses.
We also offer “Writing Diversity Statements for Academic Jobs” for graduate students and post-docs, which was developed by the Writing Center’s 2017 TA Assistant Director Antonio Byrd. To learn more about this workshop, you can read Antonio’s post on our Writing Center’s blog.