Dakota Student

Letter to the editor

A response to February 4 story “Student fee breakdown”

Anna Kinney, Contributing Writer

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Writing is hard. It’s time consuming and labor intensive and most of the time, it’s lonely and isolating work. But the ability to write – and write well – is one of the most fundamental skills for those entering the workforce. Alumni regularly identify the ability to write well as one of the most important and enduring skills from their education. Writing is a skill worth developing, and it is, therefore, a skill worth investing in. 

I am appreciative that the Dakota Student recently explored how choices are made to invest student fees. As the article mentions, the Writing Center is an area that relies on student fees to support student writers, and I want to provide some perspective and clarity on what these fees mean for the services provided to student writers. 

At the Writing Center, we believe that writing is a process. There really isn’t such a thing as a “good writer.” A good writer, rather, is a good reviser. Consultants in the center work with writers through this process of revision in free, one-on-one consultations on writing from any discipline. Students regularly comment on how helpful working with a consultant can be at every stage of writing.  

In fact, 94 percent of students surveyed indicated that they felt more confident after working with a consultant. One student wrote, “The writing center IS the most helpful resource I use. I walk in not understanding what to do and 15 minutes later I am confident and ready to write!” 

Writing Center consultants work with students both on campus and from a distance. We use student fees to pay our undergraduate consultants, so we depend on the money to continue offering enough appointments to serve students’ needs. Because we use student fees for this sole purpose, any reduction in our budget translates directly to how many appointments we can offer. A choice to reduce the budget, therefore, means students will face reduced access to an important academic resource.  

Unfortunately, the students most impacted are those who are historically underserved and underrepresented on campus: multilingual students, international students, first generation students, non-traditional students and online or distance students. 

Due to budget cuts, UND’s ESL Resource Center was forced to close last year. As a result, the Writing Center is currently the only academic resource center that supports multilingual students. The center plays an essential role in supporting their goals.  

More than a third of our appointments serve multilingual speakers and international students, a number that has steadily increased over the last few years. As we continue to grow our program offerings and recruit talented individuals from around the world, there needs to be adequate support in place when students arrive.  

An international student writer recently provided the following feedback: “As an international student the Writing Center means a lot to me. I’ve been to it many times and always found what I was looking for. I hope this program continues for as long as the university exists.”  

Student Government and SFAC have supported the Writing Center for many years and helped make it possible for us to provide an important service and adapt to better support students’ needs on campus. I can’t express how important that support has been for the Writing Center, and how necessary it is for the future. Students need to continue to communicate with leadership about the services and resources they value. I’m lucky — I hear about how important and impactful the Writing Center is every day from students and faculty.  

One student comment sums it up: “the writing center consultants are so knowledgeable in the field of writing. In a very short time, I learned what will be part of me for life.”  

This is what we love to hear, but it’s especially important for students to reach out and share those stories in insights with leaders, so spaces like the Writing Center can continue to offer impactful learning experiences. 

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The student news site of University of North Dakota
Letter to the editor