Need to talk? Lenoir-Rhyne University has implemented a new model for listening known as the Listening Post.
The Listening Post, initiated by LR First Lady Donna Whitt for the Hickory campus, is a safe space where students can talk with trained volunteers, share their concerns, consider options, and explore ideas in a nonjudgmental environment.
The atmosphere is informal and welcoming. Visitors to the Listening Post are seen as capable of handling or solving their problems. Volunteer listeners respond with clarifying questions, affirm the individuals where they are at the moment, suggest options, and follow through in ways designed to encourage personal growth.
"We believe that our Bear Family is a large and caring one that would embrace this opportunity," Whitt said. "When you think about it, students, as well as the rest of us, seldom have someone who will simply listen, really listen to us. That is, in part, because compassionate, nonjudgmental listening takes some effort."
Many of the Listening Post volunteers are LR alumni who want to give back to their alma mater. To serve as a volunteer, Whitt coordinates a two-hour orientation during which she discusses active listening skills, appropriate boundaries, and the current realities of today's college students. The Listening Post volunteers have received specific training in LR's Supporting Students in Need policies and protocol and are informed regarding how to respond in urgent or emergent situations.
The Listening Post was started in Denver, Colorado, in 1979 by Dr. Mabel F. Barth after she felt that students were in need of someone being present and available to care and listen to what was going on in their lives. There are more than 150 Listening Post chapters across the country, primarily on college campuses.
Students can find the Listening Post at a reserved table in the stairway landing area of the Cromer Center from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. every Tuesday and Wednesday.