As a Cornell alumnus, it grieves me to hear that Empathy, Assistance and Referral Service will no longer offer peer counseling, given Cornell’s general liability insurance does not cover peer counseling. Although I graduated five years ago, I cannot imagine that the importance of empathetic listening and training has diminished, especially given the COVID pandemic.
I first came to Cornell for the 2012 Revisit Weekend, in the shadow of a series of student deaths. The campus was subdued, with upperclassmen whispering furtively behind the excited faces of the admitted students. Black metal fences lined the bridges between North and Central campuses –– a brutal daily reminder of fragility of life and importance of mental health. I joined EARS as a freshman and ultimately became an EARS counselor and trainer.