This fall, the Dean of Students office will be adding a new position entitled the Director of Prevention and Education. The Dean is adding many new positions to her office, but this role in particular is a key one that the student body should be aware of.
The Director of Prevention and Education will be a multi-faceted position that will fill many voids that currently exist in student health advocacy at Muhlenberg. Overall, the director will be expected to both encourage and enable a greater understanding on topics like alcohol/drugs, sexual and gender based misconduct and mental health.
This will be done by facilitating and supporting peer advocacy groups as well as working directly with faculty, staff and students. The new director will also serve as a much needed student advocate. They will work more directly with students on a personal level, and will be someone that students will be able to speak with more freely than they might with another administrator such as the Title IX director. In no way is the Director of Prevention and Education intended to be disciplinary role, rather a resource and ally for students. The overall goal for the director will be the well being of the individual student.
Somewhat interestingly, SGA will be paying the salary of the new director for their first four years on campus, with the contribution from SGA decreasing by 25% over the four year period. Dean Gulati approached the SGA back in the fall semester with a proposal for the organization to be financially involved. Primarily this was done out of necessity, due to the addition of many student organizations, and convenience because the budget that stems from SGA is also under the larger umbrella of student activities that funds student services.
In her proposal, Dean Gulati addresses what the current climate for education and prevention is and therefor why the position is important. “A high- level position within Student Affairs is essential at this time to assist with these prevention efforts for students on Muhlenberg’s campus” said Gulati.
SGA voted unanimously to fund the position. The organization will cover the salary of the new director for the first year, and over the course of the following four years the SGA funding will decrease by 25%.
Jake Krol ‘18, SGA’s Executive Secretary, stated that “SGA will leave the door open for a future relationship with the new director.” Dean Gulati is also planning on including them in on campus interviews.
The implementation of the New Director for Prevention and Education is important mostly, if not entirely, because it will fill a gap that currently exists when providing and promoting beneficial student health on campus. Currently there is nothing effective happening prevention wise on campus.
“Mostly what exists now are student campaigns and there is not a lot of top down from the administration” says Taylor Johns ‘18, SGA Treasurer, on the search committee for the new director.
It is the hope and expectation of Dean Gulati that the new Director will work with students and groups and develop new group peer health education, which has been proven to be a more effective form of advocating student health.
Johns says that she hopes the community “moves from bystander intervention to a larger cultural change on campus.”
There is currently a search committee that is underway and is in the midst of choosing candidates for the new position. The committee is composed of faculty and students chosen by Title IX officer Lee Kolbe. The new director will be chosen in May and they will begin working within the June or July time frame.
The search committee is looking for an individual who, ideally, has previous experience in facilitating student advocacy, as well as an understanding of diversity within a larger community and in individual cases. Most importantly, the search committee is looking for someone passionate and who is willing to take the initiative in helping students.
As articulated by both SGA and Dean Gulati “this person [the incoming Director of Prevention and Education] will help us as a campus think about alcohol, drugs, mental health, and sexual violence through education, dialogue, and through providing needed information to students that is based on the needs of campus.”