Proactive Prevention: New coordinator hopes to stop student violence before it happens

Lauren Bernstein

By Paige P. Parvin 96G

As Emory’s new coordinator of sexual and relationship violence prevention, education, and response, Lauren Bernstein has a long title but a simple mission: to help build a healthy, safe community for students.

Bernstein has an MSW from Washington University in St. Louis and has held varied positions in violence prevention and advocacy. Most recently, she developed a volunteer program within the domestic violence court system of Saint Louis County, organizing and supervising about thirty volunteers who support and guide people through the court process. She also has answered crisis lines and facilitated recovery therapy.

“I think what really drew me to this position is being able to work on multiple levels,” she says. “I love working with students and making sure they have access to all the resources available. Being able to combine all I have been doing is fantastic for me.”

In her new role, Bernstein will be responsible for planning, implementing, and evaluating Emory’s sexual assault prevention initiatives, from staff training to student support to education and awareness raising. One important aspect of Bernstein’s job will be to make sure Emory’s approach is proactive rather than reactive when it comes to student violence, but she says she is already building on a strong foundation. Her position reports to the Office of Health Promotion within Student Health and Counseling Services and the Division of Campus Life.

“The great thing about Emory is that there is a tradition of addressing these issues head-on,” she says. “Having a position like this for the previous four years, we have a lot of amazing prevention and education initiatives. This is a campus that really cares about its students and there is an ethic that violence is not okay. We are in a good place.”

In the early weeks of the academic year, Bernstein is creating an outreach plan to facilitate conversations about sexual assault and violence, deliberately engaging men and a range of people from all over campus in addition to female students. The first six weeks are a danger zone for new students, she says, so she will be reaching out to first-year and graduate students especially.

“My biggest message is my willingness and strong desire to partner with them, and learn what I can do to help make this a safer place,” she says. “I want them to know they can be involved.”

Paige P. Parvin 96G is the editor of Emory Magazine and a member of the Center for Women at Emory Editorial Board.