Last Wednesday, October 6, the Equity Office hosted Mike Dormitz, founder of The Date Safe Project, on campus to speak to an audience of over 100 people about significant issues surrounding consent and healthy relationships. Students, faculty, and staff, along with members of the Waterloo community, listened intently to his talk titled, Can I Kiss You? Through his use of interactive humour and charisma, Mike engaged in valuable discussions with attendees, leaving a lasting impact on the well-being of our community.
Each year, the news reports on a number of sexual assault cases, both in communities and on campuses across Canada. More than 700 cases have been reported to Canadian universities and colleges over the past five years, a number which experts say is alarmingly low compared to the number of cases which sadly go unreported.
Mike Dormitz has made it his mission to inform people of all ages, all over our country. Offering positive ways to impact and support the many issues surrounding sexual assault, Mike included three significant takeaways in his talk, which will help continue discussions of healthy intimacy on our campus and in our community.
Firstly, in one of his opening lines, Mike shared with the audience that body language is the most unreliable form of communication that exists by far. Moderate signs of affection, like making eyes across a room, can often be interpreted as having romantic feelings for an interested party. By clarifying intentions before any action is taken, you can show respect and avoid missteps that could lead to an uncomfortable or unfortunate situation.
Secondly, Mike explained that gender labels have created a dangerous double standard, which often prevents bystanders from intervening before a sexual assaults occurs. He then provided attendees with four simple steps to help encourage people to stand up and take preventative action.
Identify the potential sexual assault
Picture your loved one as the victim
Team up with those around you and check in on the situation
Stay calm and focus
- Lastly, whether it’s meeting someone at a party or being in a long-term relationship, consent should be part of every intimate interaction in society. During his closing remarks, Mike asked the audience: “What is the only way you can ever know what someone is thinking?” to which the audience responded with a resounding “If you ask.”
Waterloo was proud to host Mike Dormitz to teach our community about healthy behaviour and appropriate attitudes towards sexual assault. Discussions around this topic, as well as gender equity, are growing on a global scale, and UWaterloo is committed to doing its part to create healthy, safe, welcoming spaces and opportunities for our students, faculty and staff.
For more information about Mike Dormitz, and The Date Safe Project, visit his website. To stay informed about upcoming lectures and events, subscribe to our community relations mailing list.