Recovery sessions help students and staff return


In the wake of Feb. 14, NIU set up recovery sessions for faculty and staff to express their concerns and lingering emotions of that day.

As the semester brings new faculty, staff and students, the recovery sessions are designed to help educate faculty and staff to prepare for a post-crisis environment where newcomers may not be as familiar with the events of Feb. 14 as those who are returning. On Feb. 14, a gunman entered Room 101 of Cole Hall and opened fire, killing five students and injuring 18 others before killing himself.

“[The sessions are] just to make sure everybody’s up to speed on what the university is doing and has done, what resources are available, either for faculty, staff, or for students, and to answer any questions anyone has,” said Executive Vice President and Provost Ray Alden.

The sessions, conducted by staff from the Employee Assistance Program, began on Aug. 22 and will continue until Sept. 5. They are more workshop-based and not therapy oriented, but discussions can become “personal and sensitive” as described by one session leader Deborah Haliczer, director of Employee Relation.

Another session conductor, Professor Toni Tollerud of the Department of Counseling, Adult and Higher Education, said while the recovery sessions are workshop-based they are still informal gatherings where faculty and staff can come together to talk.

“It’s very informal and what we’re trying to do is give faculty and staff a chance to just talk about how they’re feeling at this time, coming back to class, having the students come back to class, to give them a chance to anticipate what might happen in their initial classes,” Tollerud said.

Two sessions have already been held so far, and both Haliczer and Tollerud believe they are proving to be helpful to the attendees.

While the recovery sessions are aimed at faculty and staff, counseling services are still available at the Counseling and Student Development Center for students who are trying to cope with returning to campus and the events of Feb. 14.

The Counseling and Student Development Center is still accepting first-time walk-ins and will be hosting a counseling group called Healing Huskies which is designed to help all NIU students who are continuing to deal with the impact of Feb. 14.

Also, as part of the outreach programs of the Welcome Days during the first week of the fall semester, the Counseling and Student Development Center will be hosting on Tuesday in the Campus Life Building a program called Healing with the Huskies, which is for new students joining the healing NIU community.