TORONTO – Humber College has brought in an acclaimed author and public speaker to teach students lessons they didn’t learn through textbooks or classroom lectures prior to their post-secondary education.
“Most students in high school don’t get lessons on sexual decision making. High schools like to think: ‘well that kind of stuff is not happening in high school,’ which is insane,” says Mike Domitrz, creator of the Can I Kiss You program, which is aimed at educating students on how to protect themselves from sexual assault.
“We teach three main skill sets: one, how to ask first before engaging in sexual intimacy; two, how to intervene when you see someone at a party using alcohol to facilitate a sexual assault; and three, how to open the door to survivors,” says Domitrz, who was motivated to create this program after his younger sister was raped in 1989.
“I was enraged, I was furious, and what I realized was that that was not going to help.”
The award-winning American speaker and author channeled his energy into learning about consent and how to empower teens to take control of their relationship choices.
“He speaks to students on a very non-judgemental and non-condescending level. He helps them understand the issues in a way that’s very real,” says Jen McMillen, Dean of Students at Humber College.
Domitrz wraps his lessons in humour and provides very practical advice.
“You should be able to look your partner in the eye and say: ‘hey, we’re having a great time tonight, can I give you a kiss?’ You ask, and what it does is that it tells your partner how much you are into them and gives them a choice and shows respect.”
When alcohol is present Domitrz says it’s best to “get a group of friends together, go check in on the person who has been drinking and make sure they have friends who are getting them home. You want to intervene so this predator does not get this person alone.”
Molly Mackenzie attends Humber and says the insight is valuable.
“Especially in residence I feel like it’s a lot bigger of a deal because you’re going out drinking and not making the smartest of decisions some of the time,” she said.
The knowledge also cuts across cultural lines and puts everyone on the same page.
“What some might perceive as being sexual assault others may not, so therefore it’s putting a clear line [in the sand] so that everyone gets an understanding of how to treat everyone equally,” says Dallas Knowles, a residence assistant at Humber College.
Domitrz speaks at around 90 to 100 campuses a year.