‘Can I Kiss You?’ event offers York students safe dating tips

How do you know how far your partner really wants to go with you? How do you let him or her know what you want without being too subtle, bossy, or making the mistake of just “going for it”? These are some of the hard-hitting questions that will be addressed during York’s second annual “Can I Kiss You?” event on Thursday, Sept. 8, at 7pm at the Rexall Centre.

Mike Domitrz Dating and relationship educator Mike Domitrz (right) provides a different take on the traditional “No Means No” approach by asking students to consider this question: “Do You Ask?” His show teaches students how to ask for what they want, sexually or intimately, including precisely how to handle a “No”.

Domitrz, who speaks at schools, universities and other institutions across the US and Canada, draws audience members into his show to help role-play awkward dating moments. In the midst of the laughter are some crucial lessons about intimacy, including the importance of respecting personal boundaries.

Last year’s show was popular, drawing an audience of 1,500 and prompting organizers to promote it as an annual orientation event.

“Many new students, both domestic and international, may not fully appreciate how vulnerable they could be in certain situations,” says Noël Badiou, director of York’s Centre for Human Rights.

“The University recognizes this potential vulnerability and is taking action to increase safety for all York U community members. Some of these initiatives support raising greater awareness about safety in the specific context of dating and intimate relationships. The Can I Kiss You? event is one such initiative during which it is expected that the message of safe and respectful dating practices is well received in an engaging way. In addition, there is also a valuable message about the importance of looking out for each other,” he says.

Beyond gaining valuable skills to use in their relationships, students who attend the event will also learn how to intervene appropriately in potentially dangerous situations with friends, including when alcohol is involved. Domitrz will hold sessions with student leaders and student services staff prior to the main event to train them in how to handle these kinds of situations and how to teach others to do the same.

Domitrz is executive director of the Date Safe Project, which provides organizations with educational materials and programming about sexual assault awareness and healthy intimacy.

The event, at the Centre of Excellence at the Rexall Centre, is hosted by the York University Centre for Human Rights and sponsored by the Centre for Human Rights, Residence Life and the Women’s Campus Safety Grant. The event is also supported by several student organizations, including the York Federation of Students (YFS) and the College Councils.

York University’s goSAFE has partnered with the Centre for Human Rights to offer their services to students, staff and faculty attending the event. They will be stationed in the Harry Arthurs Commons and at the Rexall Centre to escort those attending the presentation to and from the venue.