Writing Center

Student tutor at Hampden-Sydney College

What is the Writing Center, and what is it for? 
The Writing Center, located in the basement of Morton Hall, is open throughout the academic year as a service for those seeking to learn to write effectively. It offers tutorial assistance on individual writing assignments and self-paced materials in spelling, grammar, punctuation, and style. Any Hampden-Sydney student may come to the Writing Center (free of charge) for assistance with any aspect of any writing project.

What do I need to do to get help?
To ensure that you are able to see a tutor at the time you desire, come to the Writing Center one or two days in advance of the time you will need help and sign up in the appropriate slot on the bulletin board. You are also welcome to drop by any time the Writing Center is open, even if you have no scheduled appointment. As soon as a tutor is free, he or she will help you.

Should I bring anything with me to the Writing Center?
Bring anything you have written on the project-notes, jottings, drafts, typed copy, or graded essays needing revision. If you desire help with grammar or punctuation, come with a clear sense of what particular issues are causing problems for you.

What about the Honor Code?
It is not a violation of the Honor Code to receive tutorial help in the Writing Center. In fact, professors in various departments at the College often recommend that their students seek tutorial assistance on writing assignments. However, you ought to indicate on the finished essays that you have been to the Writing Center for assistance.


As the Rhetoric 101 and 102 Guidelines state, "The Writing Center, located in the basement of Morton Hall, offers tutorial assistance on individual writing assignments and self-paced materials in spelling, grammar, punctuation, and style." Six Macintosh computers and three printers are also available for students' use in the Center. Any Hampden-Sydney student (not just those in rhetoric courses) may come to the Writing Center for assistance with any aspect of any writing project, subject only to the limits on outside help set by various professors. Tutorial help from one of three rhetoric staff members (Deis, Frye, or Rand) is available Monday-Thursday afternoons, three hours each day, for a total of twelve hours per week. Student tutors are on duty an additional 42 hours per week (including evenings, Sunday through Thursday). Students seeking tutorial help from rhetoric staff members who work in the Center sign up for an appointment on the board located just outside the entrance. Appointments are limited to 15 minutes each, though students may sign up for two consecutive appointments. A student may also establish a regular weekly appointment by writing "Do not erase" beside his name on the board. Students need not sign up ahead of time for appointments with the student tutors.

Students may use the Writing Center on their own initiative, or their instructors may suggest--or require--that they seek help in the Center. In Writing Center tutorial sessions, neither staff members nor student tutors will do any part of a student's work for him: we do not give a student topics to work on, we do not structure the paper for him or give him materials to include in the paper, and we do not proofread the paper for him. The goals of all Writing Center staff members are to help the student clarify his own thoughts, to help him find the structure most appropriate to his ideas and supporting materials, and to help him see the flaws or weaknesses in his writing style that make his paper difficult to read and understand. Consequently, tutorial sessions operate by the Socratic method, with the student himself discussing his ideas and his problems in developing those ideas, and the staff member or student tutor serving primarily as a sensitive and responsive reader and listener. Of course, students who come to the Center (usually sent by instructors in rhetoric classes) for review for specific grammar questions receive more direct instruction than do students who bring essays in to the Center. Students are advised that they may work with Writing Center staff members to prepare for the Rhetoric Proficiency Exam. We have sample essay topics on file on which students may base practice essays and then review those essays with Writing Center staff members. We recommend strongly that students who fail the Proficiency Exam come to the Center to review their exam and to work on their individual writing problems in preparation for the next testing.

Contact the Writing Center Lab
Morton Hall Basement
(434) 223-6010