Peer Listeners foster community dialogue

by Joseph Farnes

What issues does the campus face? What do we need to talk about?

Students who have been here a year or longer have probably heard of the Peer Listeners. They probably thought about us as those caring individuals who hold office hours for those who want to  talk about difficulties or issues they face.

Yes, we do those things. Our advisors in the counseling office here help train us and give us insight into how to listen well. And we do take our responsibilities on campus seriously.

But Peer Listening really needs to be more than one-on-one listening. Listening is a process in the community, too. Sharing experiences and ideas encourages a community to work together to understand what it means to be a person, to be one among many.

That is why, this year, Peer Listeners would like to foster campus conversation about personal issues which we never talk about. For example, what are the pressures of being a Whitman student? What about the pressures of just being a person? How does the pressure to be all you can be make you feel? Do we want to be perfect (intellectually, socially, physically)? How do we deal with these pressures?

We hope to publish articles that will get Whitman both thinking about issues and also talking about them. We talk about politics, the state of the world’s environment, and economic and social injustices. All of these are very important and form the backbone of Whitman’s consciousness. But we also need to talk about us.

We Peer Listeners want to get Whitman to start talking … and listening.

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