Community Norms & Policies
In this page, you'll find important information about our services and policies and answers to common questions about the Writing Center. In addition to the policies described below, anyone who uses a Writing Center service agrees to follow our community norms.
Writing Center Community Norms
The following norms are a set of principles by which all members of the UMass Boston community and anyone who interacts with the Writing Center (consultants, writers, faculty, and staff) agrees to abide in order to maintain a safe, equitable, and inclusive environment for all. This list of norms was created to uphold the particular mission and vision of the Writing Center; additionally, as members of the larger UMass Boston community, consultants and student writers are expected to adhere to the University’s Student Code of Conduct
- These guidelines apply to in-person consultations in both our main space and satellite space and to online consultations and to any Writing Center sponsored events.
- Consultants and writers alike reserve the right to end a consultation at any time if these norms have been breached or if they feel uncomfortable or unsafe.
- Should any individual violate these norms, they may be denied appointments with certain consultants, be temporarily or permanently banned from using the Writing Center, and/or be reported to campus officials.
By scheduling or attending a Writing Center consultation or registering for and attending a Writing Center event, writers agree to uphold these norms. Likewise, Writing Center consultants and administrators agree to uphold and enforce these norms in a supportive and fair manner.
- Respect all identities: The Writing Center does not tolerate disruptive, harmful, abusive, threatening, harassing, or discriminatory behavior of any kind (verbal, emotional, physical, or otherwise). This includes discrimination based on race, ethnicity, nationality, citizenship, political orientation, language, gender, sex, sexual orientation, age, education, ability, neurodiversity, socioeconomic, cognitive, appearance, and/or any other aspect of identity.
- Honor others’ realities: Everyone who participates in the Writing Center has their own story, background, and set of circumstances. While we may not fully know, understand, or agree with others’ opinions or lived experiences, we must recognize that each person’s reality is worthy of respect and seek to value our differences. All Writing Center participants are encouraged to speak from the “I” perspective in order to validate each writer’s point of view while also allowing for multiple perspectives.
- Suspend judgment and assume positive intent: It’s important to recognize that our words and/or actions may affect others differently than we intend. Likewise, the way we interpret others’ words and/or actions may not match their intention. Before reacting to comments or behaviors that may feel hurtful, shaming, or discriminatory, assume that the person did not intend to offend. Invite the person to explain their perspective before forming a conclusion.
- Be present: Writing is inherently personal, and sharing writing necessitates vulnerability. Accordingly, consultants and writers should be attentive and actively engaged in the consultation for its duration. This includes silencing electronic devices, limiting cellphone use (except in urgent situations or if the phone is needed to access writing), and minimizing other distractions that may arise.
- Maintain Confidentiality: Writing Center participants are never required to disclose any personal information; however, if a consultant or writer chooses to share, everyone involved in the consultation agrees to maintain confidentiality (except in cases where the person sharing presents a danger to themself or others).
- Be mindful of professional boundaries: Working on writing with a peer offers the chance to collaborate with someone who can understand and empathize with the unique opportunities, challenges, and requirements student writers at UMass Boston encounter. In addition to being students themselves, Writing Center consultants are also employees and should be treated as professionals. It is not appropriate for writers to ask for consultants’ personal contact information, or for consultants to provide this information. While consultants and writers should interact in a considerate and friendly manner, all participants should keep writing at the fore.
Policies for Writers
You must make all appointments under your name and using your UMB email address. You may only use one email address. If you make more than one account, use someone else’s account, or let someone else use your account, you may be blocked from our services for the rest of the semester. We expect writers and consultants to interact respectfully in the Writing Center.
Number of appointments
Writers are allowed to make two appointments per week and one appointment per day. This ensures that we can serve as many writers as possible, including those who may want to use our drop-in services.
Our Writing Center is set up to provide support at the moment of need, for this reason, writers can’t make repeating appointments beyond 14 days. We may make some exceptions for writers who may need recurring support due to disabilities or other reasons. If you have questions about this, send us an email email@example.com.
Three missed appointments
If you miss three appointments (no-shows) in a semester, you won’t be able to make appointments via WCOnline for the remainder of that semester. If your account has been deactivated and you believe this is an error, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Late to appointments
If you’re 10 or more minutes late to your appointment, we may mark that as a “missed” appointment so that another writer can have that spot. This means that you’ll forfeit your appointment, and this will count against your missed appointments/no-shows.
If you cannot make it to a scheduled appointment, we ask that you cancel your appointment via logging into WCOnline and selecting your booked appointment. We allow writers to cancel appointments themselves up to 15 minutes before an appointment. After this time has passed, any appointment that is not cancelled, and for which a writer does not show up, will be counted as a no-show. For assistance with canceling appointments, please email email@example.com.
Our online consultations work just like in-person consultations. Our online platform (WCOnline) includes a whiteboard space where you can paste your text, a chat function, and video and audio capabilities. To access your online appointment, click on your booked appointment and select “Start Online Consultation” when prompted. Please make sure that your audio and video are enabled. Online appointments are an extension of UMB’s instructional space. We expect writers and consultants to interact respectfully in the same way they would during an in-person visit. Please plan ahead and try to find a quiet space for video/audio/chat functions.
Drop-in length will vary and depend on how many other writers might be waiting but are typically around 20-30 minutes long. Because drop-ins are meant to provide support in the moment when a writer needs it, we don’t have a limit on how many drop-ins any writer can attend. Once you’ve worked with a consultant during a drop-in, you may have to go back to the line in order to talk to a consultant again the same day. Our dop-in policy may be adjusted depending on the time of the semester and how many writers are waiting. Drop-ins are currently only offered in person at our main location. We have designated drop-in hours (see our hours and locations page). If you’re looking for a drop-in session outside of these dedicated hours, you may come to our locations when we’re open and ask if there are any consultants who can take a drop-in.
Working with us on your writing
Please only bring writing that is your own to the writing center. We believe in collaborative, hands-on learning and we can’t work with writing that is not your own. If you bring writing that is not your own, you may be asked to leave the session and you may be blocked from our services for the rest of the semester. The only exception for this is collaborative and/or co-authored writing when at least one of the authors is at the session.
Writing center survey
After you’ve met with a consultant, you’ll be emailed a short survey that allows you to give us anonymous feedback and help us improve. You can also access that survey here: umb.mywconline.com/survey.php
We want to protect everyone who visits our writing center. We strongly recommend you wear a face mask if you’re attending an in-person session or writing center event. If a consultant asks you to use a face mask, we appreciate you respecting that and wearing one correctly during your appointment. If you prefer, you can receive the same services via our online appointments.
Health and wellness
Stay home if you’re sick. We want to protect all our staff and our writers. If you’re sick, please don’t come into the writing center. If you have an in-person appointment, please contact us and we may be able to switch your appointment to an online appointment. Alternatively, if you feel well enough to be productive in a session, you can schedule an online appointment. Bring your own device or two copies of your text to minimize contact. You may also create a sharable document (Google Docs, OneDrive, etc.) so that you can work on one device and your consultant can work on another.
Communication between the writing center and instructors
The Writing Center does not provide information to instructors about writers’ appointments, if a writer has attended a session, or the content of a writer’s consultation. The only time we may provide information is if you explicitly request us to do so. For example, if you wish to share some information with an instructor, your consultant can provide you with a copy of your post-session form that you are free to share with your instructor. In some cases, you can ask the Writing Center administrative team to reach out to your instructor.
Policies for Faculty
Avoid requiring visits to the Writing Center
Please don’t require visits to the writing center. If instructors send their classes to the writing center as a requirement for an assignment (whether as part of a grade or for extra credit) we will not be able to accommodate writers seeking our support given our current staffing. In addition, we prefer that writers visit us because they want to and see us as a safe space where they can ask questions and work on improving their writing. Check out our suggestions on how to talk to writers about the writing center, our syllabus statement, and other services for faculty in our “services for faculty” page.
Documentation from the Writing Center
If a writer asks us to document that they attended a session, with their permission, we may copy you on the post-session form or they can take a picture of that form to share with you. Writers can also forward the post-session form to faculty after a session. However, we want to protect writers’ privacy and will not provide additional information about who uses our services.
Communication between the writing center and instructors
Because we want to provide a safe space for our writers and to encourage self-efficacy, we will not monitor nor provide information about who uses our services. Our consultants will not directly communicate with instructors, and we won’t provide any information about our sessions with any particular writer unless we have explicit permission to do so from a writer for very particular reasons. If you have any questions, please reach out to us via email (firstname.lastname@example.org) and we’ll assist you.
Requesting informational class visits
If you’d like a writing center staff member to visit your class to share information about our services, please fill out the informational class visit form found on our website homepage.