By Carolyn Mathis
The Listening Post, located across from the bookstore, aims to provide a no pressure space for students to talk about anything with trained volunteers who will listen. Students can talk about serious topics or not so serious things, such as the stress of an upcoming test, and unless a student mentions something about their safety or others’, the conversation stays at The Listening Post.
“There’s value in just having someone listen carefully to you, and that’s what we try to do,” said Nancy Janisch, Ministry Director at True North Campus Ministry and a Listening Post volunteer.
Janisch said her main goal at The Listening Post is to be there and listen.
“I don’t come with an agenda” she said.
The Listening Post is set up to be student initiated. Jansich and another volunteer sit behind a table, allowing students to come to them. The table has resource items to take such as bookmarks with The Listening Post’s information and cards listing emergency phone numbers. The student dictates what is said and for how long, there is no pressure.
For a more individual conversation or if a student would like to talk privately, they and a volunteer may go into the Student Life Office.
The Listening Post will provide students with resources if they are seeking counseling or therapy from licensed professionals, such as the Counseling Center located on the third floor of the Student Center. This therapy is always available to students and is free of charge.
Since The Listening Post is set up once a week, Jansich and her volunteers keep a notebook of interactions in case a student was having a conversation that they would like to refer back to. Janisch is always there for continuity, but in case a student spoke with a different volunteer, they do not have to start the conversation from scratch.
Janisch believes The Listening Post plays an important role in helping students feel connected and is surprised by its impact.
“You can go through your day with classes and stuff and not really have a conversation,” Janisch said.
The Listening Post is set up every Tuesday during fall and winter semesters from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on the first floor of the Student Center. Students in need of immediate counseling, can visit the counselors on the third floor of the Student Center or call (616) 234-3900.