Building an inclusive environment at the Writing Centre

How the Writing Centre is evolving to better support TRU's international students

TRU’s Writing Centre is changing how they help student writers, taking an anti-racist approach by encouraging inclusivity and incorporating other languages while tutoring.

TRU Writing Centre co-ordinator Jenna Goddard posed the question, “What should an anti-racist Writing Centre be like?”

Felicia Rose Chavez’s book, The Anti-Racist Writing Workshop: How to Decolonize the Creative Classroom, talks about making classrooms more inclusive and encourages students to listen to one another.

This book inspired a three-part training approach aimed at reducing the power imbalance between tutors and students. An example of this approach involves instances where instructors penalize grammar issues in assignments, even when such matters aren’t part of the grading criteria. Such actions can leave students feeling undervalued, according to the book.

“Academic writing is not solely about the final paper or the grade, but rather it is more focused on growth and success,” Goddard said.

Tutors are trained to actively listen, validate students’ choices and instruct in concrete terms, thereby dismantling the deficit perception that often shadows these students, according to Goddard.

“It’s a session that encompasses active listening to students and giving them autonomy to make choices, inquiring extensively, accentuating strengths in their written assignment and instructing on essential writing components in concrete terms rather than abstract language,” she said.

Tutors in the Writing Centre share the various languages they speak on their tutor profiles and use them in sessions to aid in explanation and the student’s understanding and comfort. Multiple languages are celebrated in the Writing Centre.

The centre offers students guidance, inspiration or simply a welcoming space to explore the art of writing. It also offers virtual workshops throughout the semester. During the Fall 2023 semester, students can join creative writing sessions on Fridays between 1 p.m. and 2 p.m., and registration is not required.