"We Don't Do That Here": Calling Out Deficit Discourse in the Writing Center to Reframe Multilingual Graduate Support
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Over the years, as writing center tutors, graduate assistants, and administrators, we have witnessed the challenges facing multilingual graduate student writers on their quest for academic writing support. We have spent our time researching campus resources only to find that holistic (and whole-istic) approaches to working with the particular needs of graduate multilingual writers (GMLWs) are lacking. One common narrative that we witness repeatedly is concerned with GMLWs: the “we don’t do grammar” frame that many writing centers endorse. In the example from narrative one, which is based on a client with whom Erica has been working, Yifan left embarrassed, as she was made to feel like she had been using the writing center fraudulently. In Erica’s next meeting with Yifan, she explained why writing centers are so resistant to changing this frame for their work. While her explanation may have mediated Yifan’s embarrassment somewhat, Yifan was still hesitant to work with anyone besides Erica. A similar sense of guilt and embarrassment is felt by Sam, the tutor in narrative three, who focuses on local concerns in longterm, high stakes projects that graduate students typically bring to the center. All three narratives echo what we identify as particular obstacles faced not only by our GMLWs when seeking out resources to improve their communication skills, but also by tutors and administrators who wish to identify best practices in serving multilingual students.