By Bonnie Devet, College of Charleston
With a cold March rain signaling that winter was hanging on just a little too long, South Carolina Writing Center Directors gathered at Furman University for the third annual directors’ meeting of the South Carolina Writing Center Association, also fondly known as the Palmetto State Writing Center Association (PSWCA). The March 29, 2014, conference—sponsored by the Southeastern Writing Center Association—was hosted by Jean Schwab, the Coordinator of the Center for Teaching and Learning’s Writing & Media Lab.
The keynote speaker Diane Boyd, Associate Director of Furman’s Center for Teaching and Learning, led a workshop-type discussion of “What Happens in the Writing Center Stays in the Writing Center: The Paradox of Communication and Confidentiality.” Showing clips from the movie The Hangover and breaking the group of directors into teams, Dr. Boyd stressed the need for better communication, especially with the faculty whom she called the “absent presence.”
After a splendid catered lunch, the directors — representing South Carolina from the mountains to the coast (Anderson University, Furman University, Lander University, Winthrop University, Presbyterian College, the University of South Carolina, the Medical College of South Carolina, Coastal Carolina University, and the College of Charleston) — heard a presentation on “Communicating to Consultants the Worth and Value of their Writing Lab Work,” by Bonnie Devet (College of Charleston). This presentation described how to help consultants understand their identity as consultants by inviting back to campus former Writing Lab consultants who, then, exchange ideas with the current workers.
Next, the meeting broke into two groups where directors focused on readings that they had completed prior to attending the conference. All directors had received excerpts from two current, important WC books: Ellen Schenel and William J. Macauley’s Building Writing Center Assessments That Matter (Utah State U. Press 2012) and Laura Greenfield and Karen Rowan’s edited collection Writing Centers and the New Racism: A Call for Sustainable Dialogue (Utah State U. Press 2011). Scott Pleasant (Coastal Carolina University) conducted a discussion on his successful assessment methods that his center has carried out while Jane Smith (Winthrop University) led another group on the nature of racism. Then, all the directors reconvened to exchange what they had learned in their respective groups.
To end the day, Graham Stowe, from the University of South Carolina and the SWCA representative for the state, reported that the PSWCA would be setting up a new ListServ in order to reach all SC directors. He also reminded the directors about two upcoming meetings: the Southeastern Writing Center Association conference to be held in Nashville, Tennessee (February 19-21, 2015), and the International Writing Center Association/National Conference on Peer Tutoring in Writing scheduled for Orlando, Florida (October 30- Nov. 1, 2014).
The rains finally ended, and the late March sun broke forth to highlight the fountains gracing the front of Furman’s library where the directors had had a full day of informative discussions. Exiting down the gloriously grand front steps of the library, the SC Writing Center Directors were looking ahead to the next meeting in September (location to be determined), a meeting where tutors will present their research.