Writing Center Policy

Mission statement:

The ODU Writing Center (WC) provides free individual and group tutorials to currently enrolled undergraduate and graduate students working on writing projects for any course; WC tutors are not editors or proofreaders. Tutors coach and encourage students to achieve independence in the composition and revision of their own work.

The WC upholds the International Writing Centers Association’s (IWCA) policy on diversity and will “inclusively serve all students, including members of underrepresented groups such as people of color, lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people, and people with a range of abilities, economic needs, and linguistic expression.”

We don’t edit; we teach!

Quick Links to topics most commonly asked about:

Overview: The following Writing Center guidelines help students and professors understand operational procedures and the mission of the WC. These guidelines ensure the smooth running of the Writing Center. Not following these policies may result in students being denied the privilege of using the Writing Center’s tutoring services for the remainder of the semester or longer.

Appeals: The Writing Center may not work with students on appeals, including grade appeals or academic conduct cases. The Writing Center will refer students to their professors and/or the Office of Academic Integrity.

Appointments:

Number of appointments allowed per week: Students can have one scheduled appointment per week and one drop-in, or they may have two drop-ins.

Proof or verification of appointments: The WC issues verification emails automatically every Friday for proof of attendance (once the student clears his/her tutor to do so at the end of an appointment). Students may also request a paper slip. Please note that the Writing Center does not evaluate the student.

Recurring appointments: Students may come in four weeks in a row. Because the WC is not a private tutoring service, the Director reviews standing appointments after four occurrences. The WC will request that students frequently using the service keep a progress log to track learning. Please remember one scheduled appointment can be made per week, and a student may have either one scheduled appointment and one drop-in per week, or two drop-ins.

Requesting a specific tutor for your appointments: Provided that a particular tutor is available during the hours that you request, he or she can see you on a regular basis (with the tutor’s consent and approval of the Director).

Missed appointments and cancellations: When the Writing Center is booked, the only way students can get appointments is if we have a cancellation. When the WC is full, you may be able to get an appointment at ten minutes past any hour if someone doesn’t show up for an appointment.

Late policy for appointments: All appointments begin on the hour. We hold the appointment for 10 minutes. If a student doesn’t show up, the appointment is considered a no-show and will be given away to a drop-in student. There is no penalty for cancellations, but there is a penalty for no-shows. Please remember that our appointments are in demand. Being a no-show means taking away an appointment from someone else. Students are allowed three missed appointments per semester (without any attempt to contact us and cancel or reschedule ahead of time). After three appointments are missed, a student cannot schedule an appointment for the rest of the semester. However, drop-ins are allowed. At the start of each semester, we will reset the list.

Required appointments:

The Writing Center is a voluntary service. The WC has a limited number of tutors and appointments and is unable to offer teaching assistance for individual instructors, courses, or departments.

Drop-ins: Drop-ins are run on a first-come, first-serve basis. The focus of drop-in appointments is on specific, pointed concerns, using help docs as a centerpiece. As such, features of traditional appointments, such as reading the paper out loud, may be forgone either on the basis of necessity or for the sake of brevity. All Writing Center rules apply during drop-in appointments.

Distance appointments: The Writing Center does not make distance learning appointments for students who have access to campus under any circumstances.

For a distance appointment, call the WC directly at 757.683.4013 so that a tutor can talk you through the process. We will reserve a virtual room for your appointment online.

Proof of an appointment: The WC provides students with verification. It is up to the student whether s/he wants to provide that to the instructor. Most students do. In order for the appointment to receive verification, it must last at least 20 minutes. Substantive feedback is difficult to achieve in less than 20 minutes. Because of the high volume of students who come in and pressures on tutors to manage the office and tutoring appointments, we cannot keep lists for individual professors. The WC would like it to remain the students’ choice to seek our services.

No-shows: Please let the Writing Center know if you are unable to make your appointment (call 757.683.4013). After three missed appointments, you will be unable to schedule an appointment for the remainder of the semester. You may, however, come in for a drop-in.

Controversial topics: The Writing Center can help students with papers including controversial topics, but papers that do not meet ethical standards required by the Office of Academic Integrity will not be permitted. This may include plagiarized work or writing that can be deemed offensive. Please refer to the following statement for examples. The International Writing Centers Association’s (IWCA) policy on diversity states that writing centers will “inclusively serve all students, including members of underrepresented groups such as people of color, lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people, and people with a range of abilities, economic needs, and linguistic expression.”

Disability: In accordance with all university policies and the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Writing Center is accessible to all students. The WC will work with students and with the Office of Educational Accessibility to provide accommodations for students with special needs.

Discontinuance of service or dismissal of students: Students may not misrepresent themselves in any way when scheduling an appointment. Such misrepresentations include, but are not limited to, falsely identifying yourself as another student, falsely identifying yourself as a student when you are not enrolled at ODU, or identifying yourself as a student once you have graduated. In certain cases, we may contact the Office of Academic Integrity to pursue disciplinary actions against any students who are violating the “Code of Students Responsibilities.”

Disruptive behavior: The Writing Center reserves the right to end sessions and ask disruptive or disrespectful students to leave. If at any time a student is deemed unsafe, tutors will call Campus Security to report the student.

Editing: The WC does not line-edit or proofread.

Employment: The Writing Center is staffed by graduate students from the English department who have received assistantships. Graduate Program Directors (GPDs) select the tutors who work in the writing center. At this time, the WC does not have positions for undergraduate students or hourly-paid tutors.

ELC students: The Writing Center serves ODU students currently enrolled in classes as part of the regular educational programs for graduates and undergraduates. Students enrolled in the ELC (English Language Center) receive writing help at the ELC and cannot make appointments at the Writing Center until they have matriculated as part of a regular program. Exceptions are made for students in the “Bridge Program” in the ELC because those students are enrolled as both regular admissions and ELC students concurrently.

ESL: The term ESL stands for English as a Second Language, and many in the writing profession use the term loosely to indicate students who are learning English (despite whether it’s a student’s second, third, fourth, etc., language). The WC offers assistance to currently enrolled students who are learning English. The WC is unable to offer services to non-academic staff, spouses, students at other universities, or members of the general public.

Exams: If students seek help on exams, the WC needs written permission from an instructor via an email to the WC Director. We ask instructors to email the Director and state their name, course title, and whether or not permission is for an entire class or for individuals within the class.

 

Ethics: The WC expects students to offer writing that meets ethical standards, including those of the University Office of Academic Integrity. Plagiarized writing or work misrepresented as a students’ own will not be discussed in conference. Furthermore, the Writing Center can help students with papers including controversial topics, but papers that do not meet ethical standards required by the Office of Academic Integrity will not be permitted. This may include plagiarized work or writing that can be deemed offensive in regard to the International Writing Centers Association’s (IWCA) policy on diversity, which states that writing centers will “inclusively serve all students, including members of underrepresented groups such as people of color, lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people, and people with a range of abilities, economic needs, and linguistic expression.”

Extra credit: The WC discourages the use of its services for extra credit.

False Representations:

Students may not misrepresent themselves in any way when scheduling an appointment. Such misrepresentations include, but are not limited to, falsely identifying yourself as another student, falsely identifying yourself as a student when you are not enrolled at ODU, or identifying yourself as a student once you have graduated. In certain cases, we may contact the Office of Academic Integrity to pursue disciplinary actions against any students who are violating the “Code of Students Responsibilities.”

Grades:

For students:

We can’t predict grades, and your grade on an assignment should be something you discuss with your instructor. We respect the confidentiality of every tutorial session and keep your records private. Evaluation is reserved for professors; however, we are here to encourage you to become better critics of your own writing. We cannot try to guess at your grade.

For faculty:

The WC requests that tutoring visits not be connected to grades in any way (for a grade, extra points, or extra credit). The WC cannot control the students’ use of tutors’ advice once the student leaves the WC, and we cannot predict how the student will represent their experience or visit to the WC.

Groups: The WC can provide assistance with collaborative papers. We ask that all group members be present. The tutor can only work on the parts written by group members who are present. In other words, parts of a document written by a group member not at the appointment cannot be covered. A group member must be present to get an appointment verification to give to an instructor.

Lab rules: The Writing Center will ask you to log in with your UIN at the front desk if you would like to use the Writing Lab. When possible, available tutors can help students in the lab with brief questions. Tutors who need computers to work with students for tutorials have priority use of the computers; in the event that a tutor must use a computer, you may have to log off and return at another time. In addition, we ask that students not eat at the writing lab. The lab is for currently enrolled students only. Please refrain from phone conversations when using the lab. See disruptive behavior for more information.

Misrepresentation: Appointments are for currently enrolled ODU students only. Writers who are not currently enrolled students may not use the WC. Due to limited space, the WC will ask university employees to use the library computers. The WC is not budgeted to work with the community at large. Students must present a University I.D. Also see

False Representation.

Multiple papers: The WC asks students to bring one paper to work on for each visit. Multiple papers cannot be addressed in one visit.

Plagiarism:

The WC expects students to offer writing that meets ethical standards, including those of the University Office of Academic Integrity. Plagiarized writing or work misrepresented as a students’ own will not be discussed in conference. The Writing Center cannot get involved in plagiarism disputes. Students must work with their professors and the Office of Academic Integrity in these cases.

Safety: The Writing Center reserves the right to end sessions and ask disruptive or disrespectful students to leave. If at any time a student is deemed unsafe, tutors will call Campus Security to report the student.

Services: Appointments are for currently enrolled ODU students only. Writers who are not currently enrolled students may not use the WC. Due to limited space, the WC will ask university employees to use the library computers. The WC is not budgeted to work with the community at large. Students must present a University I.D.

Space: The WC is for writing tutoring or the writing lab during open hours. The WC refrigerator, microwave, and coffee maker are for WC use only.