Volume 23, Number 1, Spring 2006
So, Just How Old are Writing Centres in Canada?
St. Francis Xavier University, Antigonish, NS
In 2005-2006, the St. Francis Xavier University Writing Centre celebrated its 10th anniversary. In its first year of operation, one staff member worked 15 hours per week and shared a room and a closet in the campus meal hall. Throughout the years, much like many other Canadian writing centres, the Writing Centre at St. Francis Xavier University (StFX) in Antigonish, Nova Scotia has survived growing pains, space issues, Senate debates, and budget cutbacks and has launched new programs and has reached as many students as they could. Now, during the regular academic year, six contracted professionals and one secretary join the full-time coordinator and writing centre instructor. Over each of the past few years, instructors have worked with approximately 10% of the student body at least once, and have conducted over 3500 appointments per year, plus in-class information sessions, workshops open to the entire student body, and three programs: eXcel, the voluntary transition program for first-year students; APEX, the mandatory program for students on academic probation; and LEAP, the voluntary program for students whose first language is not English.
Despite the activity in the Centre, many faculty and students seemed surprised when we hosted our 10th birthday bash during International Writing Centre Week in February 2006. We were asked how old we were in relation to the other writing centres in Canada. For the answer, I posted the question to the CASLL listserv. The reaction from other writing centres was immediate. The following is a compilation of the responses received from 23 centres. Special thanks are sent to Betsy Sargent for her work in this as well! If there are errors or omissions, please contact me.
According to Henry David Thoreau, "None are so old as those who have outlived enthusiasm." Based on the activity on the CASLL listserv, on the scholarship that is emerging from writing centres across Canada, and on the creation of the Canadian Writing Centre Association, we're all still very young!
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