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Writing Center Eliminates Fellows in Favor of Liaisons

By Madeleine Thompson

The Writing Center will institute a Liaisons program next semester to replace its Fellows program, which began in 2011 as an experiment to connect Consultants with specific academic classes, and has since become widely popular. Rather than working closely with one class section, Liaisons will be assigned to a particular discipline, and will be available to any professor who wants a Liaison to work with his or her class.

According to Director of the Writing Center Jeanne Griggs, the change will allow the Writing Center to accommodate the high demand for Consultants specializing in certain areas. [The Fellows program] wasnt fair. It wasnt equal, she said. Some of the faculty were saying, Why cant we work with one of [the Fellows]? And some students started asking, Why do these students have this and we dont? So we really are trying to make it more fair and equal to everyone.

The change from Fellows to Liaisons is partially an effort to more clearly define the nature of the job. It seemed like people on campus had the idea that it was going to be subject-matter tutoring, Griggs said. We really wanted to emphasize that it is not.

There are currently 47 students employed by the Writing Center 27 of them will be Liaisons. Under the new system, the skills of the Liaisons will be available to more students, and Liaisons who want to work more hours will be offered the opportunity to work up to six hours per week. The current workload of the seven Fellows will be spread out among the 27 Liaisons, and their pay grade adjusted to reflect the change in responsibility. As Liaisons, the current Fellows will receive level-two pay, $8.45 per hour, instead of level three, currently $9.52 per hour, due to the specifications of each pay grade. The level-three pay grade is rare, according to Griggs, because it requires [employees] to be in charge of other students or a whole facility. Level two is the level at which the Writing Center Consultants are paid.

We wanted to emphasize that the writing Liaisons are doing the same work as the Consultants, but the scheduling for the Writing Liaisons is going to be done on our website so its hopefully easier for people to find, Griggs said.

Student Manager of the Writing Center and Fellow Noah Johnson 14 isnt jumping to any conclusions regarding the new program. The ideas based on a practical level, Johnson said. But the idea also is that there are more people, so theyre not necessarily going to be doing more work. Liaisons will be associated as a group with a certain department based on student demand for help on writing assignments in that department, according to Johnson. For example, the English department, which experiences relatively high demand, will have four or five Liaisons.

Andrea Odegaard 14, current Fellow for Professor William Scotts 100-level U.S. History class, said the changes dont really matter at all.

I had a feeling the transition was pretty smooth other than having us go to more people. But otherwise, the system basically stays in place in how its run, she said.

Griggs expects the new program to be even more successful than its predecessor due to its ability to reach more students. We are modeling [the Liaison program] on the research librarians how they are attached to different divisions, so that if youre in that division and you need help you know who to go to, Griggs said. Thats part of helping people more generally instead of matching a consultant up with one faculty member. And thats one of the philosophical reasons for saying that everyone in the Writing Center makes the same amount of money and the Liaisons have agreed to work more hours.

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