Madonna University’s mission shapes the Madonna University Writing Center’s (MUWC) perspectives on tutoring, teaching, learning, and working with others. The Franciscan values of respect for the dignity of each person, peace and justice, reverence for creation, and education for truth and service inform our everyday interactions with students and fellow tutors.
How we tutor is in keeping with best practices for writing centers and for writing instruction in general. The professional organization for post‐secondary writing instruction is the Conference on College Composition and Communication, an affiliate of the National Council of Teachers of English. As members of CCCC, we endorse the position paper, “Professional Knowledge for the Teaching of Writing.” Everyone who evaluates writing at Madonna university or tutors in the MU Writing Center is encouraged to carefully read the entire paper.
Regardless of the student’s reason for showing up at the Writing Center, we always have these two goals:
Student writers come from diverse backgrounds and lived experiences, and the MUWC values each writer’s unique perspective and voice. We are committed to providing an inclusive safe place on campus where students of all cultures, religions, genders, sexual orientations, and abilities can raise their voices with confidence. Furthermore, we strive to help traditionally marginalized students, such as ethnic minorities, non‐native English speakers, first‐generation college students, non‐traditional students, and students with disabilities, become familiar and adept with academic discourse.
Language and language rights are an important part of learning to write and taking ownership of one’s writing. While we often fall into the trap of thinking about “right” or “wrong” English or are overly focused on “Standard Academic English,” there is actually a lot more to the story. In accord with the NCTE and other writing centers around the world, we challenge the system that favors Standard American English as the only acceptable language of academic discourse and support students’ rights to their own language. Although we acknowledge that certain standards must be maintained to ensure quality academic scholarship, we also consider the disregarding or silencing of students’ authentic voices to be a form of systemic racism. For further readings on this antiracist stance, see the NCTE position statements on diversity (select "Diversity" from the drop-down menu), including but not limited to the Statement on White Language Supremacy, CCCC Statement on Ebonics, and This Ain't Another Statement! This is a DEMAND for Black Language Justice! Part of the reason the MUWC takes a minimalist tutoring approach is to emphasize the students’ ownership of the paper, and that includes how they choose to write. We meet students where they are and support them as they work toward their writing goals, taking steps to preserve the student writer’s voice while allowing them to better understand the language requirements for writing assignments.
When thinking about access and the Writing Center, our goal is to always provide an equitable and inclusive tutoring experience for all students who visit the MUWC, regardless of (dis)ability, linguistic background, or socioeconomic status. We want to ensure that any student has the option of using the Writing Center, whether they live on or off campus, take classes in person or online, or have any other factors that impact their ability to use the Writing Center.
In order to assess our accessibility, we begin by ensuring that our services are compliant with accessibility guidelines and laws, such as the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Next, for the Writing Center to succeed at providing appropriate and inclusive services to all students, we are continuously examining ways to make our tutoring and other resources adaptable so that we can adjust to what the student needs rather than asking them to adjust to how we tutor. While the Writing Center is legally required to provide reasonable accommodations to anyone with a documented disability, our goal is to make our in‐person and online services and resources as accessible and inclusive as possible for anyone in the university community who wants support on their writing.
Inclusivity, social (and language) justice, and equitable access are essential objectives of our ongoing mission, and we continue to pursue initiatives to ensure every student feels valued, included, and supported.