First, we would like to state our philosophy on language and writing. We do not validate any hierarchy when it comes to language traditions. All language traditions emerge from people’s encounters with their local contexts and histories. These traditions serve the needs of the people and help them to articulate their unique understandings of their world. Anyone stepping into the writing center should be assured that their language tradition is respected. We do not validate judgments such as “good/bad,” “proper/improper” or “standard/non-standard” when it comes to the diverse, fluid, global and multi-dimensional English language.
All writers engage in processes of developing and expanding their language capacities as they move into new contexts of communication. Each writer has their own communication goals as they respond to new challenges and environments. Writers are not poised at the same starting line on their individual journeys into academic discourse. Therefore, we reject a set of universal best practices when it comes to supporting writers. Instead, we develop a rich, continually developing toolbox of practices for helping writers and apply these as we find most responsive to student goals and situations. We want students to both develop their capacities as well as negotiate their way through an imperfect institution and world. Whatever role writing plays in this process, we are here to help.
We view writing and communication development as happening through full participation. Writers develop through active engagement in their classes, with their classmates, with their topics and through the writing process, particularly the process of revision. Working with the CEW is another way to participate in the UB community and the writing process. Students who use the CEW are particularly participatory – hardworking, engaged, and motivated.
Given that people develop through participation, our goal is to create an inclusive, participatory community that is welcoming to new members, and through deep listening to all members, adjusts its practices to support the empowerment of all community members. The community will engage in mindful conversation regarding experiences in the academy, the most effective ways to develop within specific academic communities, and the ways the community must change to nurture full development of each participant.
We affirm that this is only the beginning of our efforts to unlearn racist ideas about language and literacy, shape an antiracist practice, and help in the larger efforts to shift the racist structures of our institution. We will continue to read and study, welcome and listen to diverse new members, and take specific steps to create our ideal of an inclusive participatory community.