Despite problems, students appreciate UAF writing center

By Jessica Herzog
04/28/2015

Once located in the Fine Arts Building, the UAF Writing Center now covers the 8th floor of the Gruening Building. It has a computer lab, resources and a view of the Alaska Range, Richard Carr, director of the Writing Center since 1997, said. Students come to use the free printing or work with tutors.

To work with a tutor, a student should sign up for an appointment, walk in or call the Writing Center, Megan Mericle, a teaching assistant and MFA English graduate student, said. According to the Writing Center website, tutoring appointments last for 30 minutes. Tutors work five hours each week, Jonnell Liebl, an MFA candidate in poetry, said. She has worked at the Writing Center for two years.

“I help students with what they can accomplish during the tutoring session and the time before the paper is due,” she said. The Writing Center is run by graduate students and some undergraduate students, Liebl said. People may think students are unqualified, but Liebl isn’t concerned. Graduate students are trusted to teach English 111 and English 213, she said. “Editing a paper is within those bounds.”

Tutors are trained for a week before they help students. The process covers how to teach English 111 and correct sample papers, Carr said. Undergraduate tutors meet three additional times each semester with Carr to discuss “common writing issues,” he said. “I really enjoy working here,” Mericle said. “It’s nice to work oneon-one with students and cover concerns not discussed in class.”

Sometimes, when a student visits frequently, student-tutor relationships are formed which facilitate understanding of the writing, Liebl said. “Lots of people are really complimentary about the process.” One such person is Kate Nagibina, a junior studying linguistics. “Since I’m not a native speaker, the Writing Center is very helpful,” she said. “It has helped me with my academic writing.”

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