Ramapo hosts last Write-In at Potter Library

Photo by Scott Yunker

Students gathered on the second floor of the George T. Potter Library to participate in the College’s third annual Write-In on Wednesday night. Staff members of the Center for Reading and Writing provided attendees with assistance in writing term papers in a relaxing atmosphere that featured free snacks, beverages and 10-minute massage sessions provided by a local company.

The Write-In represents the end of an era: It is the last event held in the library before its closure for renovation.

“Over winter break, we’ll move out of here and into Linden Hall,” Hilary Westgate, a librarian in charge of the event, said. “This is our last hurrah.”

The library is scheduled to reopen in 2021.

The first Write-In was held by Swarthmore College, which now assists writing centers at colleges and universities throughout the world in staging their own. Ramapo and other institutions in contact with Swarthmore will be holding Write-Ins throughout this week and into December.

Priscilla Tovey, outreach coordinator at the Center for Reading and Writing, co-hosted Ramapo’s Write-In with Westgate. The Center and the library constitute two separate entities with different responsibilities, said Tovey: Librarians aid in research while the Center’s employees focus on improvement in reading and writing. The event allows the two departments to work together at the same time and in the same space.

“We work with the library and refer students back-and-forth all the time,” Tovey said. “Tonight, we can do that with a bit more ease.”

The event was designed to emulate the “writing studios” found on some larger college campuses.

“Students come into a big space and sit, work and get floating writing help – people who are coming around and providing support. That’s something we don’t normally offer at the Center,” said Tovey.

In addition to Tovey’s “floaters,” attendees were invited to participate in 10- and 40-minute workshop sessions, visit a “citation station” and use a research booth.

Peggy Hartog, an adjunct professor and tutor at the Center, taught from a table positioned near the center of the room. The Write-In serves as an introductory event for students hesitant to visit the Center for Reading and Writing, she said.

According to Hartog, students who visit the Center tend to return.

“It’s about getting them in here and seeing what it’s all about,” said Hartog. “Students are pleasantly surprised by how helpful we can be in improving their writing.”

Hartog tutors international students at Ramapo, working with those for whom English is a second language. Some come from schools that do not feature resources like those offered by the Center for Reading and Writing.

“They say, ‘Wow, this is really an awesome thing. I wish I had it in my country,’” Hartog said.

Previous Ramapo Write-Ins have counted between 50 and 100 students in attendance. With a larger staff on hand than last year, Tovey and Westgate hope to serve even more students.

Westgate believes the collaboration between the library and the Writing Center allows the two groups to better serve the Ramapo student community.

“With everyone here, it’s a more supportive environment.”