Educational event part of a larger initiative to build a culture of consent on campus
There were a few—okay, several—awkward moments at the Can I Kiss You? presentation on October 11, but that was really the point.
After establishing with the audience that asking before kissing was far rarer than just “going for it,” speaker Mike Domitrz agreed that while asking might feel awkward, it’s not the main reason why people don’t ask the question. “It’s because we were never taught how, or given that skillset when it comes to sexual intimacy.”
So the group spent the evening going over how to ask for consent, how to gracefully accept a “no,” reviewing several scenarios around choice, talking about how to intervene if you see something non-consensual happening, discussing the importance of paying attention to—but not relying on—body language, and looking at ways to support survivors of sexual assault.
“ People need both knowledge and skills to create change and navigate their own relationships in healthy ways.” Roxanne Runyon
At the heart of the conversation, it was all about consent—and how that connects to giving every person the dignity and respect they deserve.
“How do you normally give someone a choice? You ask a question,” said Mike. “If you never ask, then you never really know. And if you feel like you just can’t talk about it, then you’re not ready to be sexually active.”
Can I Kiss You? was organized by MacEwan Residence staff, but it’s part of a much wider initiative on campus to end sexual violence.
“An event like this with an engaging speaker makes the content accessible by using humour and participant interaction,” says Roxanne Runyon, the university’s coordinator of sexual violence prevention. “It’s a good opportunity for students to talk about sex and communication, and to dig into important messaging around how to step up and move beyond being a bystander if you see an act that could potentially lead to sexual violence.”
This isn’t the end of the conversation. Roxanne says there are many activities already happening and events being planned—including a new video about consent, events organized by both the university and the Students’ Association of MacEwan University (SAMU), and an upcoming speaker series about social justice and ending sexual violence planned for the Winter semester.
“Events like Can I Kiss You? help to keep the momentum going around the university’s campaign to end sexual violence, and that’s important,” says Roxanne. “It’s part of an ongoing set of initiatives to give people more knowledge and skills. I really liked that this event included a tangible skills-building component. People need both knowledge and skills to create change and navigate their own relationships in healthy ways.”
Get MacEwan University news delivered to your inbox. Sign up for our weekly e-newsletter.
We acknowledge that the land on which we gather in Treaty Six Territory is the traditional gathering place for many Indigenous people. We honour and respect the history, languages, ceremonies and culture of the First Nations, Métis and Inuit who call this territory home.