Initial Action Steps Towards Anti-Racism

The OWCA has released a statement on our commitment to anti-racism. This statement is the beginning of our work. OWCA commits to the following initial action items as part of working toward anti-racism.

Provide Memberships at No Charge

Any student or professional who identifies as a person of color can receive a 3-year membership (including conference registration) to the OWCA at no charge. In addition, individuals who work at a Historically Black College or University (HBCU), Tribal College, or Hispanic-serving institution (HSI) can receive a 3-year institutional membership for up to 50 people from their institution at no charge.

New members can activate their free memberships when they register for an OWCA account. Current members can switch to a free 3-year membership within My Account.

Teach Anti-Racist Writing Center Work

The OWCA Virtual Events Committee will continue to host virtual events on anti-racism that are open access. Event organizers will make sure that these events discuss practice (in addition to theory) and have clear takeaways for students and professionals. The OWCA will also continue to hire accessibility services, such as sign language interpreters, that are owned and provided by minorities. 

If you would like to host an event on anti-racism or have ideas for an event, please email events@onlinewritingcenters.org.

Revise the OWCA Diversity Committee

The original OWCA bylaws allowed for the creation of a permanent Diversity Committee. OWCA acknowledges that the name and focus of this committee is vague, hollow, and limited in scope as an internal service committee. Committee members are working to rename the committee and reorient its focus towards greater diversity and social justice within the larger writing center community in addition to the OWCA.

If you’d like to join this committee or have suggestions for its future direction, please email diversity@onlinewritingcenters.org.

Revise Bylaws for Anti-Racism

The Executive Board has already begun discussing revisions to the OWCA bylaws, including increasing the number of positions on the Executive Board, incorporating mentoring for new Board members, and better distributing labor. Over the next few months, the Diversity Committee will work to evaluate the OWCA bylaws for racist and discriminatory norms. Part of this process will involve evaluating other organizational structures, including the recruitment and election processes for the Executive Board.   

If you’d like to assist with this work, on a short-term or long-term basis, please email diversity@onlinewritingcenters.org

Release Public Reports

The OWCA recognizes that not collecting demographic information about our members can erase or ignore their identities and make it impossible to hold this association accountable for inclusivity and equity. At the same time, we understand that identities can change over time and that members may not want personal demographic information to be tied to their member accounts.

Thus, the OWCA will begin distributing an anonymous and optional demographic questionnaire yearly to our members, beginning in October 2021. We will publicly release a report at the end of each calendar year that shares the demographics of our membership, in addition to our budget and events/actions from the previous year. We hope this report makes it easier for our members and the larger writing center community to hold the OWCA accountable for its actions and priorities.

How You Can Help

Here are some ways you can get involved: