The Writing Learning Center will receive additional money from the Office of the Provost for the remainder of the academic year. The WLC intends to use this funding to hire additional tutors and increase the hours that the center is open.
Since its opening, the WLC has had trouble with its budget, which has remained the same despite rises in the minimum wage, associate professor of English and WLC director Gillian Paku said. Due to the center’s reliance on paid tutors, recent increases in the minimum wage have raised the operational costs, while funds allocated to the WLC per semester have not increased, according to Paku.
“The problem with the budget, which basically doesn’t change year-to-year, is that minimum wage is changing in quite large increments,” Paku said. “In order to pay tutors more, I’ve had to hire fewer of them, because I’ve only got the one budget. As we drop in numbers, it becomes harder to staff the center.”
With the budgetary concerns, the WLC has staffed 16 students who can only work approximately five hours per week, Paku said. As a result, the center’s hours have decreased since its inception.
Open hours are from 1 p.m. to 11 p.m. on Mondays through Wednesdays 1 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Sundays and 1 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. on Thursdays. The center is closed on Fridays and Saturdays, according to the WLC’s webpage.
The reduced WLC hours have created difficulties for tutors in terms of managing student demand, especially during midterms or finals season, according to WLC tutor senior Veronica Taglia. Taglia also noted that the tutors often struggle with the restrictions on the center created by the budget.
“We’re usually booked solid with appointments for the full five hours we work, especially during finals and midterms season,” Taglia said. “I don’t know the finances, but I know that it would be down to the hour, where we could not go over the budget because the budget has been really tight … Sometimes only one tutor may be working when there is clearly a demand for more people at that hour, so I see a total need for this budget increase.”
Beyond increasing the hours at the WLC, Paku also described how the tutors could fulfill greater roles on-campus, should the center’s budget remain proportional to its responsibilities. Tutors, for instance, were “writing fellows” for sections of the INTD 105 writing seminar, before a dearth of funds made that role more difficult, according to Paku.
The WLC similarly works with students on career-oriented writing, as well as students who are taking English as a second language.
“Everybody on campus is a potentially useful visitor to the WLC; we’re not only targeting new writers,” Paku said. “If we can advertise that more clearly and then actually meet the potential demand, that’s really important. I see the WLC as part of a broader campus culture, where students should recognize support not as remedial, but as how academics do it.”
The funding the WLC will receive is currently only for the 2017-18 academic year, according to Paku. The Office of the Provost would have to decide to officially increase the center’s budget to permanently affect the funding it receives.
Although not every student uses the center—Paku estimates that they receive 1,500 to 1,800 appointments per year—some students still feel that it offers valuable services, including geology and business administration double major senior Lauren Badding.
“I know people do go there and it seems like a [useful] program,” Badding said. “The funding seems like a good thing since it’ll work with people’s schedules better to get their stuff looked at.”u