II Jesse Rice II
The writing center is a place
An academic sieve.
It is a place for lots of things,
It does me terror give.
Afraid, I am afraid to take
Too much control away
From students who’ve come here to think
Not listen to my say.
The other day a guy came in,
He put me to the test.
His topic was why blacks are dumb;
My heart clenched in my chest.
“Just tell me when the grammar’s wrong,”
He said, “The rest is great.”
“I’ll be the judge of that,” I joked,
Mind sinking ‘neath the weight.
We started with his intro ‘graph,
Up to the thesis read.
I added commas here and there,
Mind filling up with dread.
It’s not my job to fix his thoughts –
His paper after all.
But only help him punctuate?
At that my heart did fall.
Yet nerves and fears are ugly things,
So still I waffled on,
Reworking random sentences,
Until our time was gone.
Then finally my courage grew,
With only minutes left,
“Why did you choose this topic, Tim?”
I asked him, feeling deft.
Tim’s face did drop. “My paper, then–
More clear I hoped to be.
If you are asking questions, Ben,
More work ahead for me.”
“Well, Tim,” I said, quite carefully,
“Your paper is… direct.
My biggest issue with it, though,
Is what you haven’t checked.
“Your paper’s built on anecdotes,
From people less than gems,
I wish it held more voices from
the people it condemns.”
Tim looked at me as if he thought
My hair had turned light pink.
“You mean,” he said, “that I should try
Another way to think?”
I haven’t talked with Tim since then,
I’m not sure what he learned.
He could have become tolerant
Or from his path not turned.
Yet Tim has taught me something more
Than other students could.
I should not fear to stretch their minds:
Good writing tutors should.
Jesse Rice is a junior majoring in Communication and Biblical Studies at Lancaster Bible College. His first love is writing fiction, but he also enjoys academic writing. His passion for writing earned him a job at LBC’s Writing Center, allowing him to support students in their intellectual growth. He also serves as editor-in-chief of the student newspaper.