A guide for Freshmen: What is the UNF Writing Center?

Courtney Green, News Editor

In the floating halls above the ground-level of UNF’s sidewalks lies a land of myth spoken about only by concerned professors and dedicated students. It’s rumored that this place can provide you with the ability to write better than you ever have before, but only if you visit during hours of operation.

This place is the UNF Writing Center, and unlike other places of myth, it’s actually real. Spinnaker sat down with the Director of the Writing Program and Center, Dr. Linda Howell, to shine a spotlight on the Center for new and returning students.

If you’re in ENC 1101, ENC 1143, or any of the ENC or CRW courses at the lower levels, then you’re already aware of the Writing Program, whether you realize it or not. The Writing Center, on the other hand, is what Dr. Howell described as “the outreach and support component of the program.”

“We have writing consultations and tutoring. We provide workshops for faculty and students. We provide resources like handouts– a general array of support for students in the area of writing,” Dr. Howell shared. “We want to make sure students understand that we’re here throughout the whole process.”

An important distinction about the Writing Center, however: They do not edit. They will not insert commas as needed for you or make content adjustments. Rather, they will teach you where you went wrong so that you can fix it yourself and be better equipped to not make the same mistake again in the future.

If you visit their location on the second floor of the Skinner-Jones Hall (Building 4), you will notice an abundance of bookshelves loaded down with books of various genres, from research materials for grad assistance to the fiction novels enjoyed by the Osprey Book Club. This location is also where you would come if you made an appointment, which gives you the benefit of a 30 to 60 minute long session with a writing consultant. 

If you’re strapped for time, walk-ins are welcome at their other location on the second floor of the Roy Lassiter Hall (Building 8). Their third location is a satellite within the Thomas G. Carpenter Library, which focuses on discipline-specific, research oriented sessions and citation help.

And just in case you were under the impression that the Writing Center is only helpful for someone currently in ENC 1101 or someone who intends on being an English major, Dr. Howell was quick to dismiss that idea.

“We have been working very closely with the College of Computing, Engineering, and Construction in the last year to build curriculum into the Intro to Engineering class to creating a writing-specific class for Engineers. We did the same thing for Business. We are very much about writing around the curriculum.”

If you’re still not sure if the Writing Center will be helpful to you or if you already think you’re no good at writing and don’t stand to get much better, Dr. Howell would like to impart these three pieces of wisdom to you:

“First, writing is like any other skill, like any other athletic or musical talent. It’s better with practice. It doesn’t matter where you’re at. It matters how devoted you are to where you’re going.”

“The second thing is that it doesn’t matter what profession you’re going into, you’re to be expected to be a writer. When you walk across that stage and you go out to meet your employer, they’re going to expect that you have some advanced writing skills within your profession. So we’re here to help with that. Take this as an opportunity to experiment and to allow yourself to make mistakes in your writing and get the help and guidance now instead of making those mistakes out in the field where the stakes are much higher and consequential.”

“The third thing I have to say is have fun. Don’t be afraid of writing. Kind of use it as a way to experiment, to have fun, to see what you can do.”

On the topic of fun, the Writing Center has several events this semester that UNF students are encouraged to check out. Expect Open Houses this week, one tomorrow and one on Wednesday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. in their Skinner-Jones Hall location. Also expect to see them for Market Days later in the semester. A research party will be held September 12 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on the second floor of the Thomas G. Carpenter Library. You will likely hear the party before you see it; there will be a table and giveaways. Also look forward to the Center’s involvement with Movies on the House.

Check the Writing Center website to book appointments with a writing consultant of your choice from various specialties. Follow them on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook to keep up with all their announcements and events.

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