Cross-campus budget cuts affect the Center for Writing and Speaking

by Katie Rose Criscuolo 
Online Content Editor

Along with most other clubs and organizations on campus, the Center for Writing and Speaking have had major budget cuts, reducing the number of hours of tutoring by forty to fifty percent.

Additional cuts dismantled the speaking center director’s position, previously held by David Lawrence–changing it from a full-time visiting faculty position to a part-time staff position–and
eliminated the writing center coordinator position, usually held by a recent graduate who provided important administrative and tutoring support.

The cuts have prevented them from having a tutor in each First-Year Seminar (FYS) class and from
being open in the summer.

At an annual usage rate of over 70% and with 6,344 appointments completed last year (Agnes Scott had a student population of less than 900), the Center for Writing and Speaking is one of the most popular resources on campus.

“Agnes Scott College is trying to be more well-known, on par with Smith and Wellesley. It seems ironic and unfortunate that we cut so dramatically a program that does so much good and that we’re known for. Students and parents are drawn to the program; many students find it to be a factor in whether they stay [at Agnes Scott College] because they know they can have support,” said Cozzens.

Kate Whitney ’11, the program coordinator for the center, understands that her job was very nearly cut this year. Whitney said that Cozzens found room in an endowed fund so that Whitney could have the job. It is certain, however, that the budget will not allow her to have this job next year.

“We have had to cut hours and staff. No one lost their job this year, but we had to hire fewer people,” said Whitney.

Both Whitney and Cozzens believe that there is no possibility that they will be able to have the same success as last year. There is no room in the budget to put a tutor in each FYS, which was how first-years were introduced to the centers. Instead, Whitney said their main focus is to handle the appointments from students who need and seek them.

A new rule states that the only students who can be hired this year as tutors are those qualified for work study.

“Even if your parents bring home minimal income, it does not necessarily mean you are eligible for work study. Working at the writing center changed my life and I wouldn’t have had this job because I wasn’t involved in work study. Fewer people will get to experience the privilege of getting to work here,” said Whitney.

Part of the nature of the cuts dismantled the speaking centers director’s position such that Dave Lawrence had to look for another job.

“We will not be able to hire a person of Dave’s stature in the future,” said Cozzens.

For the past four years, Lawrence worked with students and faculty alike.

“He put everything he had into the public speaking center. He was always very patient and went out of his way to help me with or without scheduled appointments,” said Juliet Lockman ’13, referring to her first year.

Additionally, hired student aids, who provided assistance with booking appointments, fixing printers, and completing other household tasks, were cut. There is no longer room in the budget to pay these helpers. Jennifer Champagne ’14, a student aid from last year, expressed how important it was to her, as a freshman, to have a place like the writing center to work.

“The Writing Center gave me a home. Those students [Writing Center tutors] inspired me so much last year that I applied to be a tutor. And now, after accepting the tutoring position, I am absolutely devastated to learn that the student aides have been eliminated. I feel as if others are being denied the joy and happiness that I had the privilege to experience,” said Champagne.

Budget cuts have been rampant not only at Agnes Scott, but all over the nation. They have affected organizations, clubs, and academic classes.

“I think it’s been frustrating for everyone. I think there’s this attitude on campus that we’re not trying to let it affect the student life. While that’s great, I think it’s almost naive. We can’t just pretend like this isn’t happening,” said Whitney.

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