Last Thursday night, students of all ages and majors gathered in the Storer Auditorium to enjoy the clever and poignant presentation of Mike Domitrz, nationally renowned author and educator. Domitrz’s “Can I Kiss You?” program has been making a difference for over a decade by addressing issues such as consent, intimacy and sexual assault in a manner that engages students and brings awareness to the boundaries existent in all relationships.
Domitrz, a firm believer in drawing attention to cause through humor, said that the key to drawing audiences has always been a simple appeal to people’s funny bone.
“Students appreciate someone who can laugh at the quirks of relationships and ‘the dating game.’ It is incredibly difficult to initiate a conversation with anyone about heavy issues without showing them you have the capacity to laugh, too,” Domitrz said.
Domitrz brought down the house with his use of audience volunteers in various hypothetical situations to illustrate the need for mutual consent prior to intimacy.
But the conversation soon became more solemn as Domitrz shared with the audience his motivation for educating students about intimacy and consent. During his first year of college, Domitrz received a call from his mother that would change his life. His older sister, a division one athlete and dedicated student, had been brutally raped. Though he admits that his first instinct was to seek vengeance, he quickly realized that the best tribute he could pay to his sister’s capacity to survive was to educate others about prevention.
“I was horrified and angry. There are many different kinds of sexual assault, and while rape is one of them, so is engaging in sex without the permission of one’s partner, or engaging in sex when one is in no position to make a coherent decision,” Domitrz said.
Domitrz, though thrilled with the widespread success of his program, is most gratified when able to successfully encourage students to share the importance of asking for permission of their partner before becoming intimate. He asks all attendees to his presentations to sign a pledge (available at his website, canikissyou.com) promising to make a difference in the discussion.
“I have someone come up to me at almost every event and share their own story of victimization, or that of someone they know. It means more than I can say that students and adults alike share those stories with me. If they can share their story, they can evoke a desire to make a difference in others,” Domitrz said.
To learn more about how you can get involved with Canes Against Sexual Assault, please visit UC room 245 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Mike Domitrz can be contacted at email@example.com.
Kate Koza can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.