A story that The Weekly began covering last year has begun to come to a close. The hiring of a Director of Prevention Education, to be funded in the beginning by the Student Government Association (SGA), has been completed and Ann Marie Stevens has been settling into this new role.
“We’ve only been here a couple of months now so everything is brand new,” Stevens said of the new Office of Prevention Education. “There’s not a day-to-day life, it’s different depending on what happens.”
“My day-to-day can go anywhere from working with students to working with different departments and making sure their programming aligns with our mission and our goal,” Stevens said.
Stevens spends a lot of her time in meetings working to get the Prevention Education program more traction here on campus, in addition to creating programming that is both necessary and sought after by students. She added as an example of the programming that on the night of Monday Oct. 30, she hosted a screening of the movie “Goat” that dealt with hazing on a college campus.
Prior to receiving the Director of Prevention Education position, Stevens worked in Muhlenberg’s Counseling Center. She said that there are two main differences between being a counselor and the Prevention Education director. The first is that, in her new role, the things students speak to her about are not confidential.
Of all individuals considered, this made Ann Marie Stevens a natural choice for this position.
“Here, even though I’m seeing some of the same concerns and same issues, they’re now coming to me about programing around different situations,” Stevens explained of the second difference.
Like she did previously, Stevens is working directly with students, which something she loves getting to do.
Originally, there was a nationwide search for what ultimately became Stevens’ position. Dean of Students Allison Gulati addressed this decision to hire from within the Muhlenberg community in an email interview.
“Over the course of this search, we had an internal applicant come forward who not only met all of the position criteria, but brings significant experience, knowledge and new ideas to this work,” Gulati explained. “She also brings the advantage of having a mental health background and significant context for our Muhlenberg community and the direct issues our specific students are facing. Of all individuals considered, this made Ann Marie Stevens a natural choice for this position.”
Mahlet Mesfin, one of two interns with the Peer Health Advocates at Muhlenberg, mentioned that she found it a bit strange that the College went through the search process only to hire from within.
“I think this just shows that Muhlenberg should be looking within our campus to fill positions before spending money searching elsewhere,” Mesfin said of the ultimate decision to hire Stevens.
What makes Stevens’ position especially unique is the fact that it’s being funded by the SGA. “SGA has fully funded the first year of the position costs,” Gulati said. “Over four years, in incremental measures, SGA will cover less of the position and the college will cover more until the college fully funds the position and SGA no longer contributes.”
Gulati believes that gender violence and drug and alcohol abuse are issues that impact every student in some way. SGA using their budget to help create a Prevention Education program is an excellent use of some of their money, especially because it will help to support all students’ health and well being, she added.
“I think the position being funded by SGA shows an interest by the student body to support Prevention Education which is great,” Mesfin added.
“The office is here at the request of students and their needs,” Stevens said. Adding that SGA funding her position shows that Prevention Education is something students and the Muhlenberg community want.