Writing center service suspended

“Due to a delay in administrative processes, tutorials will be temporarily suspended.”

These were the words that greeted students wishing to use the tutorial services of Florida A&M University’s Writing Resource Center, earlier this week.

Kendra Mitchell, administrative assistant and curriculum coordinator of the writing resource center, said there were presently no tutorials being offered at the center. Mitchell said the contracts for the tutors were not submitted on time. Therefore, the tutors could not work.

“The process involves the contracts being submitted by administration, who submits them to payroll,” Mitchell said. “It [contracts] then goes to Title III.”

According to the U.S Department of Education’s Web site, Title III is a program that aids institutions of higher learning to increase their self-sufficiency and capacity for helping students in low-income brackets. Funds are provided to improve and strengthen academic quality, institutional management and fiscal stability of eligible institutions.

Mitchell said the contracts usually take about two weeks to process and she was waiting to find out the cause of the delay.

Esther Spencer, a 26-year-old FAMU graduate from Toledo, Ohio, is a tutor at the WRC. Spencer said she was informed on Friday, Sept. 28, that she would not be returning to work.

“I really don’t know [what the issue is] honestly,” Spencer said.

“I was just told that we can’t work until contracts go through.”

Whitney Dean, 21, a general studies student from East Oakland, Calif., visits the center regularly for tutorials. Dean said the tutors at the writing center have helped her produce better papers.

“I went to an MLA workshop to help make my paper better,” Dean said. “They [tutors] explained the ins and outs of MLA, and they helped to tweak my paper.”

Dean also said whatever she asked of the tutors they would be able to provide the information she needed. However, when Dean found out that she would not be able to receive her regular tutorials, she said she found it to be a major inconvenience.

“I found out that there were no tutorials on Thursday,” Dean said. “If I can’t get tutoring, I don’t know how to write my papers.”

Dean pointed out that professors are often unable to find the time to help students with the editing of their papers.

The general studies student said the writing center is important to the English department and for students like her, the absence of tutors has definitely been an obstacle.

Spencer agrees.

“It’s definitely a problem because we’ve been seeing a lot of students since we’ve started,” she said. “So I can [only] imagine what they’re going through. They’re definitely being affected.”

Spencer added that on average she sees 10-20 students per day, and the number is usually on the “up side.”

Lashawnda McCloud, assistant to the vice-president of fiscal affairs and interim chief financial officer Teresa Hardee, said the contracts are being processed.

“It’s not an administrative issue,” McCloud said. “The contracts are currently in the office of academic affairs. We are expediting it through their office.”

McCloud also said that usually when workers’ contracts have not been approved, they are not be able to do their jobs.

“If the appropriate paperwork is not in to Payroll, they [workers] cannot get paid, they cannot work,” McCloud said.

Workers in the Department of Payroll declined to comment and Jacqueline Lester, the department’s director, was also unavailable for comment.