186 South College

grab your coffee, sit back and hang out with the UD Honors Program for a while

Month: September 2015

Getting to Play Tutor for a Semester: My Journey as a First-Time Writing Fellow by Gabriella Mangino

Hello everyone! My name is Gabriella and I’m a senior English Professional Writing major with minors in Advertising and Journalism. The point is, I love writing –have for my entire life –and for me it has become an honest passion. The fact I’m able to say and believe that is truly awesome. Many people don’t understand the joy I get out of writing a paper, but it’s one that has led me to become an Honors Program Writing Fellow for the first time this Fall semester. I can’t tell you how excited I am to begin the process, perhaps just because I want to share my passion with the ripe minds of freshmen. But don’t think writing has always naturally to me; even English majors need writing tutors.

For upperclassmen, you know what I’m talking about when I call myself a Writing Fellow. For freshmen: no, we don’t just call ourselves that for fun – the title actually comes with a job description, and a very important one at that. It is my job as a Writing Fellow to tutor students’ papers during the drafting process and before they are submitted to the professor. I, along with one other Writing Fellow, divide the students in the class in order to achieve this efficiently all semester long. In other words, I only get to tutor half the students. We do this for the Honors English and/or Honors Colloquia courses, both of which are taken freshman year. Some professors in these courses make it mandatory for students to meet with us, others simply encourage it. Either way, it is our goal to make students better writers in any way we can. It is the students’ and our joint responsibility to set up these 30-minute conferences when our schedules align.

This past spring semester I took ENGL316: Peer Tutoring/Advanced Composition, a course taught by the Raymond Peters and offered to me upon passing the application and interview process. If you don’t know Professor Peters, you should, and take at least one of his courses by the time you graduate. The ENGL316 course trained me to become the well-informed, fully-capable Writing Fellow I now am (at least we’ll see about that); I read more literature on tutoring practices and learned more about tutoring practices than I ever thought I could, or knew existed. As a class, we read students’ papers and the comments made on them by teachers with a wide variety of feedback. We exposed ourselves to the tutoring theories and practices appropriate for many different types of students, and even tutored each other’s papers. I won’t bore you with the details of what I learned specifically, though I will mention there is a difference between directing and facilitating, and being a grammar Nazi versus actually paying attention to the content and thesis development of the paper. There are good students and bad students, and there are different ways to tutor these students, even changing my body language (imagine) to keep them interested. These are the little things I’ve kept in mind and will draw upon when I hold my first conferences.

I am writing this not to brag about the wonderful shoes I’m able to fill, but rather to bring you along in my journey as I discover what it’s like to be a tutor and work with students who are similar in age and, likely, writing ability to me. I suspect I will face challenges with some students in not knowing the most effective ways to tutor their papers or even getting in touch with them for setting up conferences. I fear I’ll become too invested in a paper or tutor it in a manner that is more directive than facilitative, which is what I’ve been taught not to do. I even fear I may not be able to meet the expectations some of my tutees have of me. What will my role be, then? Will I fail completely as a writing tutor? But what if I really rock it, after all? By the end of the semester, both you and I will know the answer to these questions.

While my journey as a Writing Fellow has not yet begun, I am in the process of scheduling my conferences now. Less students have gotten back to the introductory email I sent out a few days ago than I thought would by now, although this isn’t as discouraging as it is normal and expected. I patiently await receiving my first papers, which will bring me one step closer to holding my first real conference of many as a Writing Fellow.

Check back frequently for more posts about my tutoring experience!

#BlackLivesMatter by Heather Brody

I am the kind of person who tries to have a positive outlook on life. I like to see the good in everyone, to think that everything happens for a reason. Sometimes it is hard to keep up this attitude. Sometimes we are faced with something so terrible, that it seems impossible to stay positive. This is something that I have been struggling with these past few days.

On Monday, September 21st, the Students for the Second Amendment brought Fox News pundit Katie Pavlich to UD to speak as a Second Amendment activist. Many students were outraged that the university would allow Pavlich, who has called the Black Lives Matter movement a “violent hate group,” to speak on our campus. They felt something had to be done, that their voices needed to be heard. In no time, a flyer was created and shared on Facebook, encouraging students to join together outside Mitchell Hall, where Pavlich was speaking, for a peaceful protest.

Fast forward to around 11:00PM on Tuesday, September 22nd, when my friend noticed a Facebook status stating that someone had hung a noose on a tree outside of Mitchell Hall where the protest had been held. My friends and I gathered around our friend’s cell phone, appalled that such an act of hatred could have happened on our campus. It left a sick feeling in my stomach as I walked back to my dorm that evening. Around 12:30AM I began receiving UD Alerts and emails addressing the incident and asking for students to provide any information that may help police investigate the hate crime. I am not sure how I was able to sleep that night.

Screen Shot 2015-09-24 at 11.00.23 AM The next morning, Wednesday, September 23rd, I awoke to more UD Alerts and emails saying that the objects had not been nooses, but instead were the remains of lanterns that had been hung there earlier in the year. While this was somewhat relieving, I knew that the fact that they were lanterns did not matter. What mattered was the fact that students felt threatened and unsafe on this campus that evening, that they saw those decorations and believed that students had hung up nooses, that social media was flooded with insensitive, racist comments regarding the incident. These events made it clear that the amount of racism and the lack of diversity on this campus is a real issue that needs to be addressed. Acting President Nancy M. Targett seemed to agree, inviting students to join her outside Memorial Hall at 4:30PM that day for a discussion about the incident.

Screen Shot 2015-09-24 at 11.00.36 AM I walked to my Women & Gender Studies (WOMS) class th at morning, unsure of what to think. As I sat in my seat, waiting to discuss the readings for the day, my professor decided that instead we needed to talk about what had just happened that evening. We spent the entire 50-minute class talking about our reactions and feelings, how it had affected us and our peers, why we thought it had happened, and what we could do moving forward. Similarly, last semester, after the incidents in Ferguson occurred, my WOMS professor spent the last hour of our 3-hour long class allowing us to express our feelings about Ferguson. I have never experienced anything like it – the entire class, including the professor, was crying as students told us about how being a black student at UD feels like being an outsider, like they do not belong here. It broke my heart to hear it last semester, and it made me angry to hear it once again this semester.

Why are we allowing this to happen? Why are we sitting around doing nothing, as students feel excluded and unsafe on our campus? Why is it that the percentage of minorities at our school doesn’t even match the makeup of minorities in the state of Delaware?

Furthermore, why is it that these important conversations are only happening in my WOMS classes? This is something that that does relate, that needs to relate, to everyone, so why aren’t all of my professors providing space for conversation about these issues?

Screen Shot 2015-09-24 at 11.00.50 AM At 4:30PM, I walked toward Memorial Hall, amazed at how many students, faculty, and community members had come to show their support. I listened as Targett expressed how “deeply disturbed [she was] to see how this incident exposed feelings of fear in students,” and how determined she is to find a solution to the racist climate that exists for too many students on this campus. I cringed as students read tweets and Yik Yak posts saying things like “The only problem with the nooses was that they were empty.” And I cried, as students and faculty members climbed those glistening steps, in front of hundreds of people, courageously and selflessly sharing their own experiences as people of color at UD. One student described how it felt his freshman year to be the only black student in a classroom for the first time in his life, and how lonely it was to come to that realization. Another student recited a powerful poem, called “To those who don’t understand the movement,” exclaiming that he “will scream Black Lives Matter from the top of [his] lungs” until he could see real change happen. One student didn’t even need to speak for him to get his point across to me – he apologized as a great sigh came from his lips. That sigh told me everything. That sigh showed just how tiring, how draining it is for these students to walk around campus everyday, their backpacks filled with fear, with hatred, with racist comment after racist comment, feeling as though they don’t belong here. I can’t imagine how it must feel to carry such a load every single day.

Screen Shot 2015-09-24 at 11.01.00 AMAnd now I sit here, staring at my computer screen, wondering what I am supposed to do in the aftermath of all these events. It feels like it all happened so fast, and hit us so hard. I look at my Facebook newsfeed and see the University of Delaware as the top trending story, wondering what the nation must think of us now. I think of the students who spoke at Memorial today, wondering what they are thinking and how they are feeling. I don’t know if anything will change tomorrow, or the next day. It will probably take a long time before we see real change happening on our campus. And while these past few days have felt like one huge nightmare, I know that something positive has come from it all. These events have shown me that our campus is ready to start having these necessary conversations, that we are ready to work, however long it may take, to create a safe, welcoming environment at UD for people of all races and backgrounds. It is going to take a while to heal from these wounds that cut us so deeply, but I look forward to healing together, as a school and as a community.

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