About the Center


Seattle University Writing Center supports the SU community from all levels of writing expertise, voices, experiences, and writing practices to achieve their writing goals. The Writing Center seeks to provide an accessible, supportive, and collaborative space for learning and growth through one-on-one peer consultations.

Core Values

  • We understand writing as a process and as such welcome students at all stages of this writing process: brainstorming ideas, organizing paragraphs, integrating sources, developing argument, editing, etc. 
  • We understand that effective writing responds well to the genre’s expectations and as such we support students in unpacking assignment requirements, and discipline expectations.  
  • We acknowledge a person's right to their own language and continue to engage in multi-literacies in our community while problematizing the ways in which Academic “Standard” English is often employed to further exclude and marginalize Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC). 
  • We understand the false dichotomies between form and meaning, content and language, and as such, we welcome questions about clarity, grammar conventions, and assignment expectations. There is no question that is too trivial to bring to peer consultants at the Writing Center.  
  • We understand that writing is a practice and a skill that can be developed and transferred to other contexts. We encourage writers to keep track of their own journey through their questions, challenges, and victories. 
  • We understand the boundaries of our expertise. The writing consultants are well-educated in writing center literature and well-versed in the best practices to support writers. While we are not subject experts and may not have the answers to all questions, we will partner with clients on researching these answers and/or making appropriate referrals.   
  • We understand that language and identity are intertwined and strive to maintain an environment in which students of different races, ethnicities, abilities, gender identities, sexual orientations, and religions and spiritualities are respected, and supported in maintaining their rights to their own boundaries, privacy, agency, personal dignity, and value systems.   
  • We understand that students have agencies and that their effective communication means a negotiation between multiple literacies and a critical understanding of the rhetorical choices available to them. As we follow post colonialist, anti-oppressive tutoring practices we uphold students’ linguistic abilities as rhetorically rich resources and support students who like to explore opportunities for code-meshing. 
  • We are committed to ethical practices where we share what we know about the rhetorical choices available to writers and the possible consequences of these decisions, leaving the final decision to the writer.    
  • We are committed to always draw on sound Writing Center pedagogies and to reflect on our practices, be held accountable for our work, and to engage in reflection, learning, and research. We are committed to a critical understanding of our identities and positionalities to identify and challenge the ways in which white supremacy influences writing standards and literacy.  
  • We are committed to conducting on-going assessments of our day-to-day work, policies, and initiatives to identify and address patterns of inequalities and oppression in the Writing Center. 


The Seattle University Writing Center first opened in 1987, initially supervised by John Bean, then the Director of Writing, with the help of an assistant director. In 1993, Larry Nichols was hired as its first full-time Director. Each year from its inception until 2009, the Writing Center employed 17-25 undergraduate writing consultants who conducted a yearly average of 2500 one-hour sessions. In 2010, with increased undergraduate enrollment and the Writing Center's move to a new home in the Lemieux Library and McGoldrick Learning Commons, demand for writing center services rose dramatically. That fall, the Center hired a half-time assistant director and increased the number of peer consultants in order to conduct roughly 3000 sessions per year.

In the fall of 2013, the Writing Center leadership changed again with the director's role becoming halftime and Jennifer Heckler being hired as a fulltime Associate Director; in 2015, the former director, Larry Nichols, retired and Jennifer Heckler became the Interim Director. Jessica Ross joined the Center as the new Associate Director. Jennifer Heckler left the Writing Center before the 2016 school year to pursue a position at Highline College. In the Fall of 2017, the Writing Center welcomed Hidy Basta as the new Director of the Writing Center and in Spring of 2018 welcomed Alexandra Smith as the new part-time Associate Director. The Center continues to grow and evolve under their leadership.

As part of a very diverse campus, each year the Center serves clients from over 35 different first languages, with non-native speakers of English comprising about one-third of its clients.

Theory in Practice

Operating from the belief that effective writing often emerges from dialogic conversation and that all writers benefit from having thoughtful feedback, the Writing Center offers hour-long sessions designed to help students negotiate all phases of the writing process. The Writing Center supports writers to improve the clarity of their writing, knowledge of the disciplinary convention, and confidence in adapting productive writing strategies.  Writing consultants address writer’s concerns and questions which can include brainstorming an outline, making sure that the assignment criteria are met, working on grammar conventions, and negotiating rhetorical choices to best accomplish the writing goals. Consultants work collaboratively with clients to invite creative and critical thinking, making the Writing Center a lively space for learning—for both consultants and clients. 

Additionally, working in the Center offers consultants sustained practice in the Jesuit tradition of combining engaged learning with service and social justice. In drawing their clients into conversation, listening empathically, and taking their client’s ideas seriously, consultants help create an intellectual environment that values the “whole person:” cultural and linguistic identity, voice, thoughts, and desires to contribute to sustain a just and humane world. Most consultants find the intellectual and interpersonal skills they have learned in the center to be instrumental in their professional formation.