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Pierre R. Berastain Ojeda ’10 stepped down as director of the Office of Sexual Assault Prevention and Response on Aug. 21 to pursue nonprofit work in Washington, D.C.
Berastain departed after more than two years leading OSAPR, which provides counseling and sexual assault prevention resources for all Harvard affiliates.
During his tenure, Berastain and OSAPR staff implemented a “community engagement model,” shifting away from a reactive “clinical” approach and prioritizing interactions with students. They developed a direct service model that brought in clinicians with mental health backgrounds to staff the office.
The engagement model included expanded support from Consent Advocacy and Relationship Education tutors within the undergraduate houses and a reestablished advisory council, which collects input from faculty, staff, and students.
“Our hotline usage and our direct service usage in the last two years has increased tremendously,” Berastain said, referring to the office’s 24/7 confidential hotline and individualized support and advocacy services.
Under Berastain, OSAPR also spearheaded efforts to strengthen its relationships with underserved Harvard populations.
“We couldn’t offer a cookie-cutter or a standardized way of working with survivors or people seeking our services,” Berastain said. “We had to really think holistically and population-specific, culturally-specific ways.”
He cited partnerships with other University offices, including the Harvard University Native American Program and University Disability Resources, that enabled OSAPR to tailor its services.
“You can imagine you might want to speak with someone — an advocate, a counselor, or someone who can help you think through some of the issues that you’re experiencing,” Berastain said. “But you may not be able to actually do it because you don’t have the space to do it.”
“People call from the closet or calling as you’re walking in a park and talking about these issues,” he added. “It’s not ideal.”
Despite these challenges, Berastain said OSAPR staff has sought to accommodate students by scheduling appointments outside the typical nine-to-five workday. The office also broadened the services they help students access to include agencies outside the Greater Boston area.
Berastain leaves a vacancy in OSAPR’s executive post as the College begins a completely online fall semester, with most undergraduates living off campus.
The University still has yet to announce Berastain's departure or outline plans to replace him. It is unclear whether a University-wide hiring freeze will affect Harvard’s ability to fill his position in the near future.
Berastain now serves as deputy director of the District Alliance for Safe Housing, an organization that assists survivors of domestic and sexual violence in accessing safe housing.
—Staff writer Alex M. Koller can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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