"I want you to write this paper alone."

Something that I've never witnessed before took place not more than two feet from me. A student came in and told their tutor (not me, obviously) that she cancelled her appointment because her professor told her that she could not work on her paper with anyone, including the Writing Center. Are we not here to help?

This begs the question, do we ignore the professor and assist anyway? I say we do but I find it disheartening to know there may be a professor at your University that discourages students seeking help. We are not here as answer books but as collaborators. We collaborate everyday with different people and every student that we encounter is looking for some kind of guidance. I also can't help but wonder what might happen to this student after their paper is turned in and by some unfortunate circumstance the Professor becomes aware of her sessions with us. Is it fair to deny a student this service that the University pays us for? Or is it unfair of the student to go against explicit instructions by the Professor? I've always wanted to do things when people tell me not to anyway so I would probably go against them but when it comes to grades, one is always a little cautious.

Have any of you faced this kind of unappreciation from your University?


  1. Anonymous2:19 PM

    I have only ever come across this situation once in my time at the writing center. At our university we offer a developmental writing class which some students have to take before entering Composition I. For this class alone, the tutors are instructed not to look over the first draft of the paper. In this class, for each paper, students have a one-on-one meeting with the instructor where his/her largest mistakes are addressed. The reasoning behind this is so the instructor can truly see the students' writing abilities.

    So to answer your question, I would try to find out why the instructor has told that student to write the paper alone. Maybe this student has dependency issues or it is more of an assessment of skill.

    Hopefully this helps!!
    Ali Leugoud
    University of Central Missouri

  2. Anonymous9:07 AM

    I worked with a student a couple of years ago who actually was later referred by her professor to the campus judiciary board (for cheating) because she sought help from the writing center when she'd been told not to--there was a warning against this on her take-home exam assignment sheet, but she hadn't shown me that page and hadn't even read that part of the instructions. Based on that experience, I'd be VERY hesitant to work with a writer against the professor's instructions because the writer could potentially get into serious trouble. Sometimes, though, when profs tell students they can't get "any" help with their paper, maybe they aren't thinking about help from the writing center, which they might actually allow. Usually when I see a situation like this, I encourage the student to check with the prof first.

  3. We did check to make sure that it wasn't a take home test because we also have policies against that and didn't want her to get into trouble. I can see how some students would purposefully leave the take home test part out though. Very sneaky students.


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