Diagnothian 200 is a large blue room with high ceilings and windows, constantly provisioned with coffee, tea and fully stocked M&M dispensers. It’s home to Franklin & Marshall’s Writing Center, where 21 students, ranging from sophomores to seniors, work as tutors to help their peers with all things writing.
The center recently hosted the biannual Write-In, joining more than 100 colleges and universities across the United States and internationally (with participating institutions in Canada, Switzerland, and Germany) that invite students to gather at the end of the semester between Nov. 29 and Dec. 12. The center stayed open from 10 p.m. to 1 a.m. Dec. 3 and students came in for snacks and short writing sessions with tutors.
“It’s a time when the Writing Center is open to everyone to come at a time when people have a lot of assignments and when it’s hard for us to have enough slots in our schedule to serve the whole community,” said Mary Chiang, senior and head tutor from Madison, Miss.
Under the direction of Professors Dan Frick and Justin Hopkins, the center offers 25- and 50-minute writing sessions to students as well as faculty and professional staff throughout the academic year.
“The Writing Center is a resource to clarify ideas,” said Chiang, an animal behavior major with a minor in English. “As tutors, we all use the center. When I went in recently, my tutor helped me identify my main arguments. He knew which questions to ask.”
Working at the Writing Center has allowed Chiang to grow in her writing and in her tutoring. “I feel more comfortable in my tutoring style, and know how to handle more problems,” she said. “I’ve also learned more ways to tutor and thus to help my own writing.”
Approximately 150 students come to a Write-In, and for many of them, it's the first time visiting the center. “The Write-In gives people an idea of the Center’s physical space and shows them what it’s like to work with tutors,” Chiang said. “A lot of times the people who come to the Write-In come back because they think, ‘This seems helpful!’"
In a given academic year, the Writing Center serves slightly fewer than 2,000 students in the fall and slightly more than 1,000 in the spring.
Chiang appreciates the way the Write-In brings the campus together at a difficult point in the semester.
“It’s magical that all these people across the world are getting together to write, from lab reports to personal statements — it’s very unifying remembering we all have tests and papers and ideas we want to communicate,” she said.