Little-known center offers essay-writing assistance

As finals week approaches, students can get a little help with their final papers at the USF Tampa Library.

Located behind the Library’s group-study area, the Writing Center is a useful resource for students. Though employees said the center is packed during finals week, most students seem not to know about it.

“When I saw the rooms I thought they were offices or group study areas. I would have never thought it was an open study center,” senior advertising major Jessica Denig said. “I still know people that don’t even know the group study area is here (at the Library). They need to do a better job of informing us about it.”

Senior advertising major John Whaley said he never really understood the purpose of the Writing Center.

“I would say that less than half of the mass communications students at USF know about the Writing Center,” he said.

Though small for a University of this size, Tutoring and Learning Services Director Patricia Maher said the center tries to have two tutors on hand at minimum, with a third available for walk-in hours.

The center employs six graduate assistants who work 10 to 20 hours a week, said Writing Center Coordinator Kate Pantelides. They help undergraduate, graduate, international and composition students improve their writing skills.

The Writing Center falls under the Undergraduate Studies budget, paying $65,142 a year in salaries, Maher said. The budget includes the fall, spring and summer semesters.

“We are not complaining. We are happy and thankful that we have the funding that we have right now and are able to be a part of the learning commons,” Pantelides said.

Last year, the Writing Center was funded by the English Department. It almost disappeared because of budget cuts before Tutoring and Learning Services took over and moved it from Cooper Hall to the Library’s Learning Commons area.

The center is now located near the reference desk and group study area. This location is designed to attract more students, Maher said. The new signs should be very visible to students, too.

Though many students have never heard of Writing Center, others have high expectations and use it often.

“I expect them to help me with my writing to get a really good grade,” computer engineering major Luis Cintron said. “I found out about it through friends and my professor, who told us to come here if we needed help.”

Maher said the center is doing its best to get the word out to students.

“We have appeared in the Note-A-Bull newsletter, we have sent out notices to University instructors and we appear in the syllabus of every English composition subject,” Maher said.

The Writing Center is open Monday through Thursday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Fridays from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.