April 16, 2019

The Buckeye Way: A Student-Athlete Led Sexual Violence Prevention Program

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by Paris McGee and Alyssa Jacobs

The Buckeye Way: Sexuality, Identity, and Relationships, a student-athlete lead sexual violence prevention program, was created to educate Ohio State student-athletes on sexual assault, sexual violence and healthy relationships all while dismantling any misconceptions surrounding the topics. Additionally, the program aims to give student-athletes a greater voice and allow them to connect with and understand different vantage points.

Over 45 student athletes met in the Football Recruit Room of Ohio Stadium Monday evening, April 15th, to discuss such topics. Tim Mousseau, the keynote speaker, opened the evening with his personal experience with sexual violence and guided those in attendance through how to open up conversation around such topics to peers. Emphasizing that most individuals are not necessarily the perpetrators of sexual violence, Mousseau educated the student-athletes on the importance of speaking out against jokes surrounding the topic or using language that promotes sexual violence in our communities. Proactive conversations, something Mousseau said needs to happen more, are the key to changing perceptions.

Justin Carter from Ohio Domestic Violence Network and Molly Peirano from Title IX echoed similar sentiments. Providing information about resources on campus and how to navigate issues surrounding toxic masculinity in relationships, the pair helped with activities throughout the evening that opened dialogue between the student athletes from various sports and allowed them to talk freely about topics that could otherwise be seen as uncomfortable and therefore avoided.

The surprise celebrity guest for the evening, Terry Crews, offered his insight as a former student-athlete at Western Michigan University and current megastar in Hollywood where climates around sexual violence have been highly publicized and are increasingly challenging to navigate.  He shared his personal experiences with toxic masculinity, both in sports and in life, and urged student-athletes to be the change they want to see. His high-profile status has offered him unique opportunities to use his platform for change, something he also encouraged student-athletes in attendance to take advantage of.

The sexual violence prevention event’s aim is to provide student-athletes with a greater voice and connection with others by increasing awareness about sexual violence and healthy relationships. By educating student-athletes on facts, misconceptions and resources pertaining to sex and sexual violence, the SVP Team hopes to ultimately effect change and create a legacy of leadership and excellence for Ohio State athletics.

Both the program and event were created by a group of student-athletes who took lead on the project. The SVP team included SVP leaders and task force members from various sports teams. The student-athletes are listed as the follows:

Alex Wright –  Women’s Golf

Whitney Harris – Women’s Field Hockey

Paris McGee Jr. – Men’s Gymnastics

Derrick Malone, Jordan Fuller, and Drue Chrisman –  Men’s Football

Emily Nothnagle – Women’s Pistol

Ava Lichter and Nikki Dzurko – Synchronized Swimming

Jerry Jackson, Britten Bowen, Tavonte Mott, Robby Oswald, and Sade Olatoye – Men’s & Women’s Track & Field

with the professional guidance from Kiara McClendon, OSU student-athlete Learning Specialist.