For our second annual Gateway Writing Centers Association Conference, we invite individual, panel, and workshop proposals from tutors, program administrators and staff, instructors, and alumni inspired by the idea of gateways and access.
9:30 A.M. - 5 P.M.
St. Louis Community College, Meramec
Call for Proposals
Proposals are due by Friday, December 6. Proposals might address fostering inclusivity, ensuring access, adopting strategies for engaging online students, and any number of other topics that center on the idea of helping students, faculty, and staff access and utilize the writing center. How do we make sure they see the gateway, pass through it, and reap the rewards of doing so?
The cost of this conference is $20. The payment and registration portal will be available in January 2020.
As we converge at the Gateway Writing Centers Conference, we might think about how St. Louis functioned as a symbolic Gateway to the West, a status commemorated by the Arch. Gateways provide access, and in some senses, so do writing centers. Writing centers can provide access by acting as gateways to new ways of thinking, to academic success, to equity, to integration into the university community, and even to many other student support services.
Many of us think and talk about access frequently-access to higher education, access to equal treatment at the university, even access to services like writing centers. Writing centers serve as gateways that help students "invent the university," as David Bartholmae (1986) put it, especially those students who are nontraditional or independent, live with a disability, or are first-generation students. In addition to these students who are making up an increasing proportion of student populations, many universities are courting online students, who all too frequently underutilize writing centers and other student support services.
In a more literal sense, it is important to consider the various ways writers access the writing center space, whether in person or virtually. Many writing centers have several gateways: a literal door, an email address, a learning management system shell, an appointment calendar, a telephone. A constant challenge many writing centers face is balancing the desire to increase access while also effectively monitoring and responding to students entering at each gateway.
We might also consider our gateways to access students; for example, faculty who refer students include us in their syllabi, embed our consultants in their classes, and/or request class visits and workshops. Yet other gateways include reaching students through our web presence: i.e., the language we use on our websites, video tutorials, and workshops, or orientation materials. How do we increase that access? How do we find new gateways to our students, and how can we better use the ones we already have?
Lastly, like those intrepid pioneers, the Arch is meant to commemorate, many writers are hesitant to push their own boundaries and risk new frontiers, and when they do, it is often out of necessity, desperation, or compulsion. How might we, as a support service, alleviate students' anxieties and encourage them to take calculated risks in their writing? By what means might we urge them to use our services, not out of obligation, but freely and willingly?
Bartholmae, D. (1986). Inventing the university. Journal of Basic Writing, 5 (1), 4-23. Retrieved from https://wac.colostate.edu/jbw/v5n1/bartholomae.pdf