Students covered the Love Statue on Monday with colorful sticky notes displaying messages of support to honor former Counseling and Psychological Services Director Gregory Eells, who died on Sept. 9.
The all-day event was hosted by CogWell@Penn, a student group which promotes active listening and suicide prevention. Students gathered near the statue and wrote messages of positivity and support on the notes before placing them on the statue in an effort to increase mental health awareness at Penn. CogWell co-president and Nursing junior Allison Gelfarb said the group organized the initiative in response to Eells' death.
“Mental health awareness is an important topic to address, so I was very excited to see that CogWell was encouraging students in a positive and unique way through a Post-it note display,” said Wharton freshman Lori Feng, who left a note on the statue.
CogWell members placed a sign at the base of the Love Statue that read, “Give Love & Take Love," and encouraged students to read each other’s messages throughout the day. Members also urged students to take notes home with them as a positive reminder.
Messages on the statue included short, positive affirmations such as, “Keep Going!" “You are Beautiful," and “Much love to all — reach out, someone will reach back!”
The group wanted the event to be something they could put together quickly and make accessible to all students, Gelfarb said.
“We wanted it to be interactive, so students could come by, leave a quick note on their way to class or meetings, and then also something that could spread a good message,” Gelfarb said.
"We figured that a lot of people could use it right now, but people can always use it," said College junior Matt Tomaselli, a member of CogWell. "We are just encouraging people to pass along positive messages and reminding them that people are here for you for support when you need it."
Since Eells' death, CAPS has released a statement honoring his compassion and leadership.
Plans for a campus vigil for Eells are still being discussed among staff, Penn spokesperson Stephen MacCarthy said. A memorial service for family and close friends took place on Sept. 14.
Eells was the director of Cornell's counseling center for more than 15 years before he came to Penn in March. Cornell Health closed for a day so Eells' former colleagues and friends could attend the service.