Despite the e-Portfolio maintenance, the quarterly inservices, coffee and commenting, or work you do with the team you’re on, our jobs at the Writing Center come down to one thing: collaborating with writers about the one thing we all have in common—our obligatory, love-hate relationship with writing. We come into the Writing Center knowing that the main task of the day will be creating some sort of shared understanding with who is, usually, a stranger. This certainly demands effective communication, but similarly if not more importantly, a good environment to do so.
The loop location provides this in a sense. With its outdated furniture, whimsical Ikea chairs that you have to spin in to change height, nonsensical artwork, and some sort of oddly-placed fishbowl, the loop UCWbL provides writers and tutors with a lax environment with a plethora of conversation starters.
The Lincoln Park campus location is great too. At the center of the SAC, the newly decorated Lincoln Park location seems central to the campus itself. The centrality speaks to the importance, if not tenderness, of the LP UCWbL.
A laidback environment is just as much of a necessity as a note-taker in a face-to-face appointment. Without it, we’d leave confused, uptight, and without a clear idea of what just went on or where we should go next.
With all that being said, I will make my case for the one thing that both locations are missing. One thing that would add to the seemingly perfect environments in a way that would benefit tutors, fellows, writers and directors alike. We, the University Center for Writing-based Learning, need an UCWbL mascot. Not some sweaty man in a 50 pound costume, no. But a real, live UCWbL animal that we could care for, love, and most importantly reap inspiration from. This could be in the form of a cat, a fish, a hamster, or my cute-as-can-be Boston terrier, Lola (see below). But whoever, whatever this mascot may be, I think I speak for everyone when I say that at best, we need this mascot. At worst, we are contributing to our own downfall without one.
Stuck trying to condense a thesis statement? Ask Lola. She doesn’t even talk! So imagine the conciseness of the thesis statements she’d form.
Having trouble with pronunciation in a conversation partner appointment? Lola uses body language, signals and indisputable sounds to communicate, so there’s no way she could possibly be stumped.
As amazing as Carolyn Rudinsky’s inservice on emotionally-charged appointments was, I think we all know what the real solution is. Go to our UCWbL mascot for a motivational pep-talk from an undeniably cute, free-spirited, cuddly, (or scaly?) mascot. If that doesn’t cheer a writer up, I’m not sure what will.