A time for faculty and graduate students to work on personal, scholarly projects is now available during the bustle of a semester’s workload. Write Now, an event started in order to facilitate productivity in professors’ and graduate students’ writing projects, takes place in Common Grounds every Tuesday at 11:00 a.m.
Vi Dutcher, professor of language and literature, and writing program director, jump-started the Write Now event to “just write.” In her email, sent to faculty members and graduate students, she invited people to “join [her] as a community of writers and write together in the same space, beside each other.”
In talking with Dutcher, she mentioned the unwritten and unspoken obligations felt when a person receives their terminal degree, i.e. a doctorate. They have an obligation to contribute to their field of study. Biology professors will add to the knowledge and resources of the biology field, teaching professors will contribute teaching resources, Bible and religion professors will provide thoughtful opinions and resources on theological issues, etc.
At teaching institutions, which tend to naturally be smaller, liberal arts universities, finding time to work on scholarly projects can be, and is, difficult because of the time allotted to teaching undergraduates and the work that follows.
To elaborate, it is important to know that universities can be distinguished as either teaching institutions or research institutions. While the differences are discrete, and the lines are often muddled, Eastern Mennonite University would lean towards being a teaching university. This means that professors attempt to place an equal emphasis on teaching undergraduates as they do their scholarly research goals. At a research institution, a professor may only teach two classes per semester and have the rest of the time to work on their own scholarship.
Professors at EMU still wish to contribute scholarly resources to their field of study. Hence, Dutcher’s pilot engineering of the Write Now event. It provides a distinct time in the week to work on whatever writing project is normally placed on the back burner due to busy class schedules and obligations.
Dutcher, as both the facilitator and a participant in the event, mentioned the benefits of knowing the 11:00 a.m. time will always come again the following Tuesday. It provides, for an hour each week, the opportunity for the participants to remove themselves from daily due dates and deadlines and place a consistent schedule on creating and editing work.
“It’s nice knowing I can put down my work at 12:00 on Tuesday and pick it up again the following week right where I left off,” Dutcher said.
Dutcher is also open to the idea of allowing undergraduate students to participate in the event. She was clear on the stipulation that this is a writing event to “just write.” If it becomes a tutoring session, the purpose of the event is lost. It’s a time to work individually in the company of others.
“Even if I don’t say a word to the person next to me,” Dutcher said, “it’s still productive.
Next Tuesday when passing through Common Grounds between 11:00 a.m. and 12:00 p.m., professors and graduate students will be seen, thoughtful expressions on their faces, engrossed in a notebook or computer screen, hands flying over keys or pressing ink into paper. They are working on scholarly projects, furthering the contributions to their field of study, and taking time to fulfill their obligations as masters of their respective fields.
-Chris Yoder, Staff Writer
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