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Tutorials to be suspended

By Anthony Pesce

Feb. 18, 2009 10:53 p.m.

The Covel Composition and ESL tutoring lab will be temporarily suspended beginning this summer, and through at least the next academic year, because of budget concerns.

Ming-Huei Lam, the associate director of Academics in the Commons, said that athlete tutoring and the math and science lab will continue to operate normally.

“I’m sure you’re aware of the state budget deficit. We are in the midst of this giant storm, and it’s unprecedented. I’m hoping for the best and that services will return the following year,” Lam said.

The Composition and ESL lab focuses on helping students with academic papers and essay format exams, as well as tutoring students who learned English as their second language. The lab also offers specific help in some introductory composition courses.

The lab offers 95 hour-long appointments per week, as well as eight hours of 15 minute drop-in tutoring sessions per week ““ meaning hundreds of students per quarter and possibly thousands over the coming academic year will lose out on tutoring opportunities, Lam said.

Lam said she did not know if the university would step in and offer other options for students seeking help with their writing, but she suggested students take advantage of their teaching assistant office hours for additional help.

Underrepresented and economically disadvantaged students who qualify for the Academic Advancement Program will still be able to take advantage of AAP tutoring, but it is presently unclear whether the majority of students will be able to get free outside help on their writing.

Bruce Beiderwell, director of Writing Programs, said that the Covel tutoring is especially valuable to students who are not taking writing courses and need help, or are already good writers but are facing new writing challenges such as longer research papers.

“We’re teaching writing courses, and obviously our faculty will help students through those courses,” he said. “With tutoring, we’re talking about something that’s more broadly supportive. … Most everyone would say that students can use help and support in writing, and certainly there are students who arrive at the university and need (additional) help.”

Chris Mott, an English professor and TA coordinator for the English department said that he was concerned students were losing the valuable service.

“I think (this is) horrible. I strongly recommend to all my students, regardless of level, that they take advantage of Covel tutorials. We have a lot of undergraduates here who struggle with learning English, too,” he said.

Mott also said that he has been seeing fewer courses for students who are learning English as a second language and that the cut in tutoring coupled with fewer classes on the subject could be detrimental to these students.

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Anthony Pesce
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