The following points are Writing Center policies. Please take time to peruse them.
Director, Assistant Director, Office Coordinator, Clerical Assistants, and Tutors all work together to give Cal Poly students the best tutoring service possible. Once a student has made an appointment, our goal is to provide the service we have promised, and sometimes this requires flexibility, patience, and a positive attitude. Clerical Assistants do not have authority over tutors, but because their job is to coordinate and orchestrate the flow of services in the Center, tutors must cooperate as the clericals schedule and sometimes re-schedule appointments. Tutors do not outrank clericals, even though they are paid more, but just have different jobs. Illness, traffic, and confusion sometimes create situations in which one tutor must cover for another one, and the clericals have to work it all out. In a busy time, a tutor who is out ill can create scheduling problems throughout the entire day. Teamwork is the key to solving these problems, and it makes for a more pleasant workplace at the same time.
You are responsible for the accuracy of your hours in the online appointment schedule. The desk people have done the best they can to enter the tutor names and hours properly, but you are the expert on your schedule. Please take some time to check the hours your name is entered in the online schedule. If your name is there, appointments will be made for you.
Tutors often complain that they work long hours without a lunch break. Let me remind you that you make your own schedule. If a lunch break is appropriate, you should make a gap in your schedule. In general, the Writing Center recommends that you not schedule more than three hours without a break. In the first part of the quarter you will not have a student in every half hour block, but in the eighth, ninth, and tenth weeks, every minute will be filled and that four-hour block of non-stop tutoring will be agonizing.
If for some reason you cannot keep your scheduled hours, you must notify both the front desk and the Director as soon as possible. Planned absences due to travel or other events should be scheduled as far ahead of time as possible, at least a week. If a change in your schedule displaces students who have already been given appointments, it is your responsibility to call those students and reschedule them, or negotiate with another tutor to cover your time. All deviations from your approved schedule must be cleared with the Director, Assistant Director, or the Office Coordinator.
Note: We generally have increased demand in the fourth and eighth weeks because students are working on midterm and final assignments. Unfortunately, because tutors are also busy with coursework at those times, we have noticed that tutors tend to cross themselves out of the schedule during those times. Thus, the hours available for tutoring go down at the very times demand increases. This is not acceptable.
If car trouble or other emergencies prevent you from coming in on time, call the front desk as soon as possible. We do what we can to accommodate students, but if you are in the schedule and not present, it is likely that an unhappy student is waiting for you.
If you do not arrive on time for a scheduled appointment and a student is inconvenienced, the event will be recorded by the staff in a “Tutor Trouble Slip,” which will be turned in to the Director. This will generate a meeting with the offending tutor to discuss the problem. If a pattern becomes evident, and the behavior does not improve, the tutor may be let go.
The accuracy of your payroll information is your responsibility. Every day you work in the center you must sign in and out in the payroll book. Hours worked outside of the center in classes and workshops should be entered the next time you visit the center and identified as classroom or workshop hours. Review the timesheets for accuracy on a weekly basis, on the last day of the week you are in the center. Payroll is usually turned in near the last day of the month.
Scheduled appointments are 30 minutes long. If a student is waiting for you, try to end your current session on time. It may seem that what you are working on with your current student is very important, but the next student may also have important problems and be on a strict time schedule. We want our operation to be as professional as possible.
Although the UWC does not have a specific dress code, it is expected that student employees show up for work in attire that is neither distracting nor offensive to students or staff. In other words, use taste, good judgment, and moderation in selecting your Writing Center wardrobe. The Writing Center is not the place to test, or even approach, the limits of fashion or social acceptability.
Although we strive to create a friendly and comfortable ambiance in the Writing Center, it is also a professional workplace. Would you be comfortable if your doctor was munching on nachos while she was discussing your medical situation? Would you hire a lawyer who ate pizza while he explained your divorce settlement? Similarly, students who come to the Writing Center have a right to expect a professional attitude and your undivided attention, without distractions. For this reason eating is forbidden in the tutoring area and in the work area behind the front desk.
The Writing Center provides a tutor break area with a small table and chairs. This is the appropriate place in the Center to eat. It is acceptable to drink water, coffee, tea, juice, or sodas while you are tutoring, if you are careful and considerate of your tutee.
We try to hire enough clerical staff to cover the front desk at all times, but on occasion, Writing Center tutors may be required to answer phones and make appointments. Every tutor should learn the basics of this job. You will find that working the desk is a complex and challenging task, especially when all telephone lines are lit up and you have six people lined up to make appointments. The good people behind the desk really earn their money.
When you work the desk:
We help all students who come to us without preference or prejudice. Some students are easier to work with than others. Some of us know more about certain languages and cultures than others. It doesn't matter. Each of us tries to help whoever comes to us to the best of our abilities. If the subject matter or genre or level of the writing the student is working on is such that you think another tutor's expertise would benefit the student more, you can recommend another tutor for the next appointment, but you should spend the current appointment interacting with the student about the writing.
You can make short personal calls to local area codes. Other area codes are blocked electronically. We get a monthly summary of all calls made on our phones listing number, date, time, and duration, so we know what's going on. You can receive personal calls at the center, but people at the desk will not interrupt a tutoring appointment. They will take a message so you can return the call. We ask that you limit personal calls to 5 minutes.
Students are asked to turn cell phones off during appointments, and to step outside if they receive a call while waiting for an appointment. We ask tutors to follow the same policy.
The Writing Center is a free service, open to all Cal Poly students. Many of you also do private tutoring outside of your regular Writing Center duties. This is a useful way to supplement your income, and occasionally you will find notices requesting such tutoring posted on the Writing Center bulletin board. However, while we haven't had a serious problem yet, we need to make a clear distinction between the services the Writing Center offers without charge and private tutoring offered for a fee.
We ask that while you are a Writing Center employee you conform to the following guidelines:
The Writing Center situation is complex in terms of power relations. Tutor and tutee are both students attending the same university, yet at work in the Writing Center the tutor has a certain degree of authority over the student. It is important not to abuse that authority in any way. At the same time, the tutee has the opportunity to make appointments with tutors as he or she wishes, and may choose to make an appointment with a particular tutor for reasons of romantic or sexual interest rather than a legitimate writing problem. Both cases can create serious problems.
It is inappropriate to tutor students in the Center with whom you have a romantic relationship, or to attempt to initiate such a relationship during a tutoring session. If such a relationship develops outside the Center, ask the student to make tutoring appointments with another tutor.
It is inappropriate to discuss any aspect of a student's appearance, including clothing, hair, facial features, etc. during a tutoring appointment, whether such comments are intended as criticisms or compliments. Similarly, tutors should not touch students, and should respect the student's personal space.
Similarly, it is inappropriate for students to try to initiate relationships with tutors, to discuss their physical appearances, or to physically touch them. If a student behaves inappropriately, tell him or her to stop in no uncertain terms. If the inappropriate behavior continues, talk to the Director.
It is the policy of The California State University that each campus and the Office of the Chancellor maintain a working and learning environment free from sexual harassment of its students, employees, and those who apply for student or employee status. All students and employees should be aware that The California State University is concerned and will take action to eliminate sexual harassment. Sexual harassment is conduct subject to disciplinary action.
Sexual harassment includes such behavior as sexual advances, request for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature directed towards an employee, student, or applicant when one or more of the following circumstances are present:
Established California State University disciplinary, grievance, or other complaint procedures, as appropriate, will serve as the mechanism for resolving complaints of sexual harassment. These include the complaint procedures in collective bargaining agreements, Executive Order 419, or student complaint procedures contained in the Statement of Student Rights, Responsibilities, and Grievance Procedures, as appropriate.
Complaints of sexual harassment may be filed with the Director of Diversity and Compliance, Administration Building (Bldg. 1), Room 202, (909) 869-3121, or other appropriate administrator.
The Academic Senate recommends the acceptance of the following Standard of Conduct Statement. The statement should appear in the Catalog, the University Manual, college and departmental handbooks, and other appropriate publications.
All members of the university community are expected to practice self-discipline, fair and independent judgment, and responsibility for their treatment of others. The relationship among faculty, administrators, staff and students should be free of exploitation, harassment, or discriminatory treatment. Particularly, intimate relationships between supervisors and employees, faculty and students, or between any individuals of unequal status are strongly discouraged because of the inherent power imbalance.
All members of the university community are expected to exercise reasonable judgment regarding the separation of their rights, obligations, and activities as private citizens from their responsibilities to the university. Specifically, when they speak or act as private persons they should avoid creating the impression of speaking or acting for the University.
These statements are intended to preserve academic freedom, maintain professional conduct, and prevent potential discrimination, harassment, and conflict of interest.