Just as the Pomona College Writing Center has expanded its support for students beyond the realm of writing, its name will now match the range of support offered. This April, the center will officially be renamed “The Pomona College Center for Speaking, Writing, and the Image.”
In August 2019, the center was awarded a $250,000 Arthur Vining Davis Foundations grant which allowed it to diversify and provide support in oral and visual communication. Previously, the center exclusively focused on helping students with their writing projects.
According to Kara Wittman, Pomona’s director of college writing, these changes will allow the center to continue growing as a more inclusive space of critical pedagogy.
“Separating literacies no longer makes sense, if it ever did,” Wittman said via email. “There’s a long legacy of colonialism and aesthetic and epistemological hierarchy underwriting the way we think about the relationship between written, oral and visual culture.”
As part of the center’s ongoing rebranding, it has been hiring and training speaking partners since 2019 and image partners since April 2021. According to head writing partner Ananya Saluja PO ‘22, the addition of these partners allows the center to help students develop other necessary skills.
“Limiting the college experience and learning to just writing is so narrow,” Saluja said. “We need to focus more on the other skills that we’re picking up that kind of go in tandem with writing.”
Speaking partners support students in both formal and informal oral communication, including preparing students for job interviews or presentations. Partners can also help students prepare for class discussions and navigate through anxieties when participating in class or speaking different languages.
Meanwhile, image partners, the newest additions to the Writing Center, are being trained to support students’ writing about 2D and 3D visuals, as well as using visuals in their work.
Wittman said that the center’s support of visual communication will be in collaboration with other groups on campus.
“We need to be self-sustaining — and collaboration is an exciting way to expand and deepen what we do,” she said.
The center’s shift to include visual and oral support has been positively received by students like Sara Garza PO ’25, who said she planned to seek support from speaking and image partners.
“I think it’s really great for the college to offer this,” Garza said. “It’s a great resource.”
The center will soon see changes in its facilities as well. To further image-based support, the center plans to give students access to visual resources. Students training to be image partners are working with Wittman to build a small audio-visual library and a separate lab in the center’s back room.
The library will offer resources on art, visual rhetoric and culture, photography and film. Meanwhile, the lab will feature small-scale facilities for editing and recording.
Currently, the center offers students a choice of in-person or virtual appointments, to increase accessibility, comfortability, and allow for more hours. Students can now schedule appointments with writing, speaking or image partners.
Still, because of their novelty, Saluja said that speaking and image components of the center might not be utilized to the extent that they could. She expressed hope that more students will frequent the center.
“We have tea, we have candy, we’re all really nice,” Saluja said. “The plan for all of us [is] just having more people be able to come into the space, which is a super welcoming and nice environment.”
Wittman also added that the center is looking for more Pomona students to come work with them. Applications for next semester will open this March.
“We don’t look for ‘expertise’ in any area,” Wittman said. “Just an ability to listen and hear, read and perceive, and think and talk with openness, attention and sensitivity.”