International Write-In Creates Space to do Class Work

Photo by Matt Lowe

The second floor of the George T. Potter Library was loud and bustling with activity on Tuesday night, as students took advantage of the library’s services during the International Write-In, a three-hour long event cosponsored by the Library, Center for Reading and Writing and Commuter Affairs.

The first Write-In was held at Swarthmore College in 2014, and has since grown into a biannual, international event held at almost 100 colleges and universities worldwide over the course of one week at the end of each semester. The goal of the International Write-In is to create a safe space for students to work on final papers and study, with help from librarians, research assistants and student tutors. 2016 marks the first time Ramapo has participated in the event, which ran from 7 to 10 p.m.

“We want to encourage students to come to the library or to the Center for Reading and Writing,” said Hilary Westgate, the College’s Reference, Instruction and Outreach Librarian, “and sit down and work on papers for an extended period of time with help from tutors, librarians, stress-busting activities and snacks and refreshments.”  

The library’s second floor featured a cookie decorating station, a coffee bar, snacks and several advisement tables, including a citation station and a research help table. The library intended “to demonstrate some of the interesting new research-oriented books the library has recently gotten,” Westgate said.

Several tables set end-to-end were dedicated to stress relieving activities. Students crowded around to color and take part in 10-minute meditation sessions. Free massage therapy was also offered from 8 to 10 p.m.

Priscilla Tovey Van Aulen, the Faculty Outreach Coordinator of the Center for Reading and Writing, said some of the features of Ramapo’s event were standard at Write-Ins, and some were unique to Ramapo. Each college puts its own flair on the event to cater to its student body, and Ramapo did just that.

The stress-busters that were offered are resonant with Ramapo’s recent focus on mental health and mindful living. The Krame Center on campus hosts weekly meditation sessions, stress management and mindfulness workshops, which are open to students and faculty.

“I found a writing wall that another college did,” Van Aulen said in reference to a wall of sticky notes with students’ paper topics on them, “but the massages are unique – we didn’t come across another school that was doing that, and we didn’t come across another school that was doing the meditation either.”

Senior Nichole Francisco, a consultant for the Center for Reading and Writing, had the idea to create ten-minute speed consultation sessions, something specific to Ramapo’s Write-In. There were both full-length and speed sessions available, but regarding the shorter session, Francisco said, “This is ideal for people who already have questions.”

“In the 40-minute session, we’re teaching you not to write this paper, but how to write. With this,” Francisco said, gesturing to the speed consultation table, “I can’t be tricky about it so I will answer your questions straightforwardly.”  

The event seemed to be well received by faculty, staff and students alike.

Francisco concluded, “Seeing how successful it is right now, it should definitely be an annual thing, or even a semester thing.”