Mia Kordowski, a third-year in neuroscience, picks up a call for Buckeye PAL, the non-crisis line for Ohio State Students, which is located in the Student Wellness Center. Credit: Courtesy of Ivory Levert

The Buckeye Peer Access Line, a non-crisis talk line for Ohio State students, is once again up and running in the Student Wellness Center after having limited operations over the summer. 

Buckeye PAL, which started in 2019, is run by student volunteers, called PALs, who are available to talk about a wide variety of social and academic issues. Madeline Patrick, a fourth-year in psychology and one of two Buckeye PAL student managers, said the organization is a “a peer-based call line for non-crisis occurrences.” 

“If a student is going through any stressors in their life that they just need to talk through or that they want some resources to help them cope with, they would give us a call,” Patrick said. “We would listen to their problems and help them come to a solution on their own, whether that be through using on-campus resources or possibly community resources.”

Patrick said PALs forward students in crises to a crisis hotline or Counseling and Consultation Services’ after-hours line.

Volunteers officially started taking calls again Aug. 31. Patrick said when the university closed campus due to COVID-19 in March, the volunteer program was temporarily suspended and was instead run entirely by Ivory Levert, program manager of Buckeye PAL.

Julie Hoeflinger, a fourth-year in neuroscience and volunteer for Buckeye PAL, said the most common calls she receives are from freshmen who are adapting to life on a college campus. She said volunteers talk with students about their interests and majors to direct them to relevant resources. 

“I would say first-years calling, maybe they’re struggling with grades or they’re having a hard time meeting people,” Hoeflinger said. “I can imagine that being an even bigger problem now.” 

Patrick said although the line has been open since Aug. 31, it didn’t receive its first call until Tuesday. Since then, she said call volume and conversation topics have been about the same as last semester.

Issues students call about range from school stress and relationship problems to depression and eating disorders, Patrick said. Since the student volunteers for Buckeye PAL are not licensed counselors, they have to go through specific training to learn how to best talk through difficult conversations using a technique called “motivational interviewing.” 

“You listen to everything the person says — active listening is probably the most important part of being a PAL — and you go through and make sure you know what emotions they’re feeling, what the actual stressor is, and you talk it back to them,” Patrick said.

The Buckeye PAL operates from 8 p.m to midnight Monday through Friday. Students can call the line at 614-514-3333.