Listening Post offers students an open ear

In-Focus Editor and In-Focus Editor

Every day, students sit outside of the Union inviting passersby to a conversation.

Sometimes, it can turn into an hour long dialogue. Many times, they just offer an open ear.

The Listening Post, now in its third semester, gives all students a chance to laugh, complain or have someone who will simply listen to them.

Many recognize the Listening Post each day on campus, but others are unaware that it involves an actual class, said member Clarence Jackson, a senior social work major.

The class, FCS 4800, is taught by Bill Thompson and Dr. Laura Landry-Meyer in the Human Development and Family Studies department. Students learn communication skills and how to be active, non-judgmental listeners, Landry-Meyer said.

“You can sit on the floor, you can take your shoes off…this is not a normal class,” she said.

Justine Snyder, a junior Human Development and Family Studies major, said the Listening Post is low-pressure and students can talk about any issue or problem bothering them.

Many times, students are not asking for advice, but realize what their unique solutions are after hearing themselves talk it out, she said.

“No stereotypes, no nothing. You talk, I listen,” Snyder added.

The Listening Post is special because it specifically serves the campus community and not just Bowling Green community like other projects, Landry-Meyer said.

The volume and content of what is shared has surprised her since the group’s formation last year, she said.

In other cases, people walking by will assume the Listening Post is trying to sell a product or advertise something. Kindness like the group offers, Landry-Meyer said, is becoming a rarity itself.

“I think that in our society, having someone listen to you is so rare and taboo that people think its a gimmick,” she said.

The class meets on Wednesdays from 6:00 to 9:00 p.m. and is available for students of all majors. The first few weeks feature communication training before students begin taking shifts at the Listening Post, which is mandatory for the course.

Students can enroll in the class on a variable scale from one to three credits, whereby the more credits earned require more hours spent outside of class at the Listening Post at either the Union or in the library, Landry-Meyer said.

“We do a lot of in depth looking at yourself,” Jackson said.

Oftentimes, students of the class take turns around the room answering a question, just like at the Listening Post. Sometimes light-hearted questions are asked, while others can be more serious and introspective, Snyder said.

“We take those feelings and emotions and try to help others,” she said.