Writing Center Spaces: Manifest Destiny?
October 6, 2015
By: Cat Talley
It may be news to some, as this was long ago, but our Writing Center has not always lived in the library. When the Center was in its infancy, it lived in an oddly shaped room with purple walls located at the end of a weird little hallway in Sanford Hall, nestled on the second floor and hiding in plain sight. We had a tiny staff that ran the center and very little visibility outside of our own department. In those days it was rare to consult with a student outside of English; the vast majority of my hours on the clock were spent reading Expository Writing papers from that year’s freshmen lot who were passing through on their tour of the core curriculum. And in all honesty, I would have panicked had a student shown up seeking help with a business proposal or a chemistry lab report. I was a novice consultant back then, in the infancy of my career as well, so our pairing was appropriate, and my lack of vision about the Center’s potential for growth was understandable. I worked as a consultant as part of an assistantship for graduate school, so I assumed that I would outgrow the Center long before the Center would outgrow Sanford Hall. How naïve of me.
As soon as I waved goodbye to the little purple room on the second floor to claim my classroom on the third floor, the Center shook loose from Sanford Hall. It gathered its roots and transplanted itself in the lower level of the Belk Library. This was a considerably more desirable living space. It pulled off a remarkable upgrade, landing in a centralized location that was buzzing with students from every corner of the curriculum. After securing its much-improved living quarters, the Center began to grow new limbs and branch into different populations. All of a sudden, the staff was peppered with graduate students who were not from English, faculty consultants appeared from different disciplines, and undergraduate consultants who had competed for their positions worked side by side with the rest. It even secured an administrative assistant to help oil and run the whole operation. And for the last 8 years, our Writing Center has stayed in this space. This, however, was never going to be permanent. With the ever-growing number of clients and the constant expansion of our staff, the Center grew too big for its space in record time. Almost as soon as it settled into the library, it became obvious that we would need more space.
Now, we have our opportunity. Plans are in place; conversations are buzzing, and the Writing Center is preparing to uproot once more. This time we will move upstairs to the second floor of Belk Library. The Center will have three times the space it does now, and I have no doubt that it will instantly fill that space just as it filled its current space. In fact, I believe that our Center will grow beyond this new space the moment it settles in. There is no reason why our Center won’t continue to grow and grow and grow, and I have learned to not underestimate its capacity or its ambition.