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So Many Decisions

I have been thinking about our discussion in class about all the expectations that writing centers have to serve the public, as well as how many expectations we have as ourselves as consultants and even the expectations we have of students, who use our center. I think that our discussion really went beyond the surface of the issues presented in this week’s articles about racism, disabilities, and choices. I believe that it is imperative that everyone have expectations, as well as we also know when we are unable to meet a certain expectation or request that we direct our attention to other resources more able to help with the situation. It seems as if we all will always be in limbo about how to accommodate everyone, especially when it comes to working with students with disabilities.

From hearing accounts from other students about issues such as race that many times are obviously visible, one might not feel that the Center accommodates all their needs, mostly the issues of a level of confront. I can honestly say that I have not heard many complaints this year, which is good in relation to diversifying the staff and as well as knowing that all the consultants truly want to provide their assistance when called upon. On the other hand, other issues such as identifying students with learning/language disabilities may not always be so apparent. In this case, as I stated in class, I just believe that one knows how they feel when they are comfortable/uncomfortable, so maybe it is more of a personal judgment to find out how a person might feel upon being in the center.

As we mentioned, a complete stranger might not want to just reveal that they have a disability and what if they don't know they have one? This is where being careful with assumptions comes in heavily! The article suggests different methods of coming to terms with potential issues that arise in writing center with respect to these issues, but it is also to note that assumptions must be made with the purest of intentions as to not intentionally offend someone and their situation. I, like other felt frustration when reading the article, because I wish that there had been more tips about what to do in certain situations and how not to feel helpless. Referring students to other services that might be better able to help them or speaking with other professionals in the filed might be the appropriate way to begin to understand other populations using our center.

My suggestion of sending out a statement in the e-mail students get to notify them of an appointment, I do not see as really a disclaimer, but more of a statement that says if you have special accommodations, please don’t hesitate to maybe call ahead of time to the center and let the attendant know, so that way there is no face-to-face, risk of their perceived stigma to handle. I think it would be just like if someone was physically handicapped, we might have to move some furniture around to accommodate that person’s visit, so I believe any and all concerns should be expressed in order to tap into these “newer? areas of thought in relation to our center and its services to all students. Anyway, just more thoughts on this topic!


Comments

I totally agree. I honestly don't think it wise to put the kind of pressure on individuals with disabilities to announce that to the tutor, and I also think it puts way too much pressure on the individual tutor to be able to "scan" for disabilities in a 45 minute consultation. I think giving students the option for a safe-way to come out about their disabilities is probably one of the smartest answers, as then we as consultors know how to deal with the situation better. I have NEVER had any sort of training with disabilities, so I honestly would have NO IDEA where to start, what processes work best with what kind of disability. I think if we need to make room for students with disabilities, there either needs to be more training of the consultants, or possibly a better option would be to have those few who are specially trained, so they can go further into depth than an hour and a half training seminar.

I appreciate your comments here and in class, Brittany, on the question of whether or not students feel welcome in the Center and if they could ask for what they need from us. Although we'll never be "disability consultants" like we are "writing consultants," I wonder about how our practice and our space could present a more open, inclusive image to students?