“I want us to keep dreaming and experimenting with all these big, ambitious ways we dream care for each other into being.” Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha
The University Writing Center, a unit of the Department of Rhetoric & Writing, is a supportive community designed to help writers generate and express their ideas effectively. We have a firm commitment to learning, equity, and care. Individually and collaboratively, we work to build:
- Accessible and inclusive sites for learning;
- Flexibility and adaptability in writing and learning;
- Interdisciplinary bridges;
- Resources for writing;
- Conversations among and between stakeholders; and
- Practices that emphasize linguistic justice.
The University Writing Center aims to help all University of Texas at Austin students become more versatile, more confident, and more practiced writers.
Our approach has emerged out of the non-directive, non-evaluative methods developed in writing centers and tutor training manuals over many years. For us, non-directive means we won’t revise a student’s work for them or tell them what to do. Instead, the student is in charge of the session, and together the student and consultant work to identify areas of strength and areas in need of revision. We do not think of “directive” and “non-directive” as an either/or choice. We see consulting methods as existing on a spectrum between directive and nondirective, and we strive to identify (with the student’s input) what they want to work on in their session, according to their needs in the moment (e.g, idea development, logic, sentence structure, grammar, etc) . Instead of “fixing” students’ papers for them, we take an instructional approach to help them learn how to make their own changes.
Non-evaluative means we won’t judge a student’s work as good or bad, an A or a C, or so on. We focus instead on describing our experience reading the work, so the student can tell how another reader interpreted what they wrote and make choices accordingly. At the UWC, we believe that a successful writer is not a “good writer,” but someone who allows themselves the time to move back and forth through their writing process before arriving at a finished product. We help students cultivate this practice.
As a public university in a state where Latinx people are the majority, and a university with a rich international community, we respect and acknowledge the diversity of the students that we serve. We know that Standard American English is only one mode of writing, and we strive to help students work within this mode while staying true to their specific languages, voice, and style as they navigate their university work. We work to create an inclusive space where everyone, regardless of cultural background, language, discipline, gender, sexuality, nationality, age, and ability feels safe and respected.
We would like to acknowledge that we are meeting on Indigenous land. Moreover, we would like to acknowledge and pay our respects to the Carrizo & Comecrudo, Coahuiltecan, Caddo, Tonkawa, Comanche, Lipan Apache, Alabama-Coushatta, Kickapoo, Tigua Pueblo, and all the American Indian and Indigenous Peoples and communities who have been or have become a part of these lands and territories in Texas, here on Turtle Island.
- CCCC Statement on Students’ Right to their Own Language (1974; reaffirmed 2014)
- CCCC Statement on Second Language Writing and Multilingual Writers (2001; revised 2020)
- IWCA Position Statement on Disability and Writing Centers (2006)
- IWCA Diversity Initiative (2006)
- IWCA Position Statement on Racism, Anti-Immigration, and Linguistic Intolerance (2010)
- IWCA Position Statement on the Singular Use of “They” (2019)
Books & Articles
- Greenfield, Laura and Karen Rowan, eds. Writing Centers and the New Racism: A Call for Sustainable Dialogue and Change (2011)
- Haswell, Richard. “Minimal Marking.”(1983)
- Kiedaisch, Jean et. al. “Changing Notions of Difference in the Writing Center: The Possibilities of Universal Design.” (2007)
- North, Stephen. “The Idea of a Writing Center.”(1984)
- Rafoth, Ben. Multilingual Writers and Writing Centers (2015)
Students’ Right to Their Own Language
“We affirm the students’ right to their own patterns and varieties of language — the dialects of their nurture or whatever dialects in which they find their own identity and style. Language scholars long ago denied that the myth of a standard American dialect has any validity. The claim that any one dialect is unacceptable amounts to an attempt of one social group to exert its dominance over another. Such a claim leads to false advice for speakers and writers, and immoral advice for humans. A nation proud of its diverse heritage and its cultural and racial variety will preserve its heritage of dialects. We affirm strongly that teachers must have the experiences and training that will enable them to respect diversity and uphold the right of students to their own language.” —Resolution adopted by the Executive Committee, Conference on College Composition and Communication, 1972
Click here for details about how and why this statement was adopted.