By Asta Rossi
Yasodha Gopal, Associate Dean of Students for Health and Well-Being, recently reached out to the Quest to announce that the recently vacated post of SHARE Program Director will be filled by L Mattson beginning on September 25.
Mattson comes to Reed with dance and psychology undergraduate degrees and a graduate degree in social work. During their graduate studies at the Brown School at Washington University, they focused on relationship violence, injury prevention, sexual health education, and the ways in which social systems and norms intersect and affect our lives.
“I see sexual health as a path towards social justice, and health promotion as a major tenant of violence prevention,” Mattson wrote in a statement provided to the Quest. “I bring a sex-positive, pleasure-inclusive, and trauma-informed lens to violence prevention, health promotion, and survivor advocacy. As the SHARE Program Director, I hope to be the compassionate, knowledgeable bridge between experience and resource. I will lead with empathy, openness, and curiosity in support of each student’s success at Reed and beyond.”
“In my study, I focused on becoming familiar with theories of interpersonal violence and appropriate population-specific interventions, and in-depth study of sexuality, identity, and stigma as it relates to social work and sexual health education,” Mattson wrote in their cover letter. They continued, “My field placements have each provided opportunities to practice this tenant, having served on a coalition, a mental health clinic team, and student support center in the areas of violence prevention and mental health, where I conducted research on pleasure as a means of preventing violence on campus. I am interested in this position as a means of providing holistic sexual health promotion to support student’s success in their commitment to themselves and each other as part of a (college) system. I bring a student-centered, strengths-based, and relationship-focused heart to the work and want to use this lens in the field of health promotion.”
As part of their onboarding process, Mattson will be certified as a Confidential Advocate through the Oregon Sexual Assault Task Force. In the meantime, prior to Mattson’s start date on September 25, the SHARE program will continue its operations with survivor support groups, orientation activities, and other programs like the SHARE bar and lounge and Night Owls. In an email interview, Yasodha Gopal wrote, “We have delayed new Advocate training by a month or so given our transition and new leadership.”
In response to questions about the hiring process, Gopal explained, “We collectively made this a priority hire as it is a very student-facing role of great importance to our campus Health and Well-being. We received overwhelming interest from across the country. I think, sadly, many programs of our type are shutting down or losing funding. We are fortunate that our program has been a beacon of support and education for our students and many in our state know of our program.”
“L received rave reviews from current SHARE program students, both our Advocates and Night Owls, as well as from our campus partners in a standing-room-only introduction and presentation on the first day of classes,” wrote Gopal. She cited one advocate as saying, “L sounds like a really effective communicator, one who is very good at relaying thoughts, feelings, and opinions up and down the administration-student ladder. I think their work with LGBTQ+ individuals is also an incredible asset for the program (and covers up some gaps that we have). I am really excited to potentially work with them!”