Writing center says hello to busy semester

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Writing center Director Jane Focht-Hansen reviews an assignment for freshman composition for biochemistry freshman Victoria King-Schulze. Kirsten Simpson

Writing center Director Jane Focht-Hansen reviews an assignment for freshman composition for biochemistry freshman Victoria King-Schulze. Kirsten Simpson

Director says budget cuts reduced work-study tutors from 12 to two.

By T.L. Hupfer

sac-ranger@alamo.edu

Compared to recent years, the writing center is off to a quick start. With all six tutors booked only a week into the fall semester, Coordinator Melina Benavidez and Director Jane Focht-Hansen could not be any prouder.

But the loss of most of her tutors means not everyone will be served.

Tutors help students understand assignments, organize papers and identify grammar errors.

They help with creating a thesis and documenting sources, but many students do not know that the writing center can be used for general lab access. Focht-Hansen said the center has a digital workroom where students can create videos and PowerPoint presentations while also being a place to study.

“If a student needs help practicing a speech, the tutors are always eager to take a seat and be an audience,” she said.

The center is facing budget cuts, which could affect the number of tutors and the hours of operation. So the staff is finding less expensive ways to help students.

They have already cut the number of work-study tutors from 12 to two, but they were able to add one staff tutor.

Work-study tutors go through federal guidelines and are paid minimum wage. Staff tutors are paid higher wages because they are attending universities and have more responsibilities, Erik Treviño, one of the staff tutors, said Tuesday.

Operating hours were available Monday through Saturday in recent semesters, but this fall the center is open Monday through Friday.

Treviño said they have already seen a 10 percent decrease in their budget.

This decrease has resulted in the center eliminating online tutoring.

Focht-Hansen said with the lack of tutors, online tutoring is impossible as well as the chance of just walking in and having a tutor available.

“We are having to turn people away,” she said.

If students are interested in trying to make a difference, they can always write to the state senators and representatives with their opinions on budget cuts. She also mentioned students should address the Alamo Colleges board of trustees to voice their opinion about the impact of the budget cuts.

However, the budget cuts aren’t tampering with the excitement of the new semester.

The tutors love helping students and enjoy watching students’ faces when something finally clicks, Focht-Hansen said.

“We love seeing the light bulbs go off,” Focht-Hansen said with Benavidez in agreement, “Yeah, that’s really fun.”

Students can make appointments with the center by walking in and setting one up or by calling 210-486-1433.

Hours are 8 a.m.-6 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 8 a.m.-3 p.m. Friday. The center is Room 203 of Gonzales Hall.

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