Senior named to national It’s On Us student committee

BGSU undergraduate Mary Toth has taken the University’s It’s On Us campaign commitment to preventing sexual assaults on campus to the next level. She was chosen as one of 17 students nationally to serve on the inaugural It’s On Us Student Advisory Committee.

Toth was selected from a pool of 100 applicants for the national committee. It’s On Us is part of Generation Progress's 2014 partnership with the White House to reduce sexual violence on college campuses by encouraging personal responsibility and taking an active stand. The advisory committee will work to bring the campaign to more campuses in an effort to bring about positive cultural change.

Each member of the national committee is assigned a mentor, and Toth was fortunate to be assigned to work with Kristin Avery, the director of the It’s On Us initiative.

“This is a brand new committee, and we’re looking at what students can do. As the only student representative to the campaign in the state, I’m interested in how we can get the word out to other Ohio colleges and universities,” Toth said. “I’ve already reached out to an undergrad at Ohio State. BGSU’s campaign is well established now and it’s progressing really well. We set the standard in the state.”

Avery has been most helpful in providing resources for the BGSU campaign, which will host a Week of Action Nov. 15-21 featuring tables in the Bowen-Thompson Student Union and at athletic games, along with other activities and events to raise awareness. Another Week of Action is planned for April.

Changing the culture can range from raising awareness about use of language to teaching about safe bystander intervention to ways to keep oneself safe.

“Honestly, it’s a team effort,” Toth said. “It has to be a grassroots, student-driven movement.”

President Mary Ellen Mazey and former Vice President for Student Affairs Jill Carr were “super supportive” of the initiative from the beginning, Toth said, and formed a committee to serve as the “go-to group.” Faith Yingling, wellness director, and Vicky Kulicke, equity and diversity, have provided ongoing support.

As current students move on and graduate, “we need to identify the next student leaders for the campaign,” said Toth, a senior political science major from Holland, Mich.

Toth has been involved with the BGSU It’s On Us campaign almost since its inception. Currently a desk clerk in Kreischer/Batchelder and representative to the Resident Student Association, she is a former resident adviser and vice president for membership with the BGSU chapter of the National Residence Hall Honorary.

Kristen Weaver, a graduate student in College Student Personnel whom Toth views as a mentor, was working on the campaign early on. “She’s really passionate about it,” Toth said. “I was inspired to get involved.

“This isn’t just a women’s issue,” Toth added. “Consent has to be given both ways. And there’s a lot of gray areas where students say ‘I don’t know what consent is.’ We’re doing a lot of teaching and leading them.”

She has given presentations, most recently to S.M.A.R.T. mentors. “People might not be sure at first but when they learn more about it, they get into it. We want to encourage them to take the next step and get involved.

“It’s about empowering people to speak up. Better safe than sorry,” she said.