Editor’s note: This article was initially published in The Daily Gazette, Swarthmore’s online, daily newspaper founded in Fall 1996. As of Fall 2018, the DG has merged with The Phoenix. See the about page to read more about the DG.
Tonight, educator and author Mike Domitrz will be presenting “Can I Kiss You”, a workshop on dating, hooking up, and communication, at 7:30pm in the Friends Meeting House. Domitrz, who presents versions of this workshop all over the country at K-12 schools, colleges and universities, and military institutions, founded the Date Safe Project, an organization dedicated to promoting healthy intimacy and awareness around sexual assault.
The workshop is sponsored by Kaaren Williamsen, the Title IX Coordinator, and Nina Harris, the Violence Prevention Educator. Williamsen said Domitrz is “a really engaging presenter – he’s funny, but he’s also poignant and thoughtful and accessible.” Williamsen worked with Domitrz for a number of years, having brought him to Carleton College during her tenure as director of the Gender and Sexuality Center and deputy Title IX coordinator.
Williamsen explained that this workshop is a 101-level discussion geared towards people who may not know how to start discussions of consent. “Let’s acknowledge there’s some awkwardness in communication and hooking up,” Williamsen said, “but let’s also acknowledge that consent and communication are vitally important.” Williamsen described the workshop as both fun and thoughtful, but avoided going into more specific details. “I don’t want to give too much away—that’s part of what he does. He wants to get people in the door.”
Harris added that the workshop aims to give students real-life advice for situations they encounter on campus: “It’s beyond just ‘this is consent.’ It deals with what that communication is like. The awkwardness of the reality, and the challenges.”
This workshop is the first of many sexual wellness events planned for this year. Harris hopes to strengthen ASAP’s presence beyond orientation week, and set the expectation that ASAP members are approachable, accessible, and skilled. Ideally ASAP workshops will feature a range of programs such as speakers, films, and performance pieces in the future. This semester, Harris plans to host closed dinners for survivors of sexual assault, hold a workshop on how to support survivors, and continue training sessions for Resident Assistants. Harris and Williamsen are also working with new members of the Delta Upsilon and Phi Psi fraternities.
Williamsen and Harris hope to reach a wide audience with new programming. “Programming and events like this still need to be tailored to this particular campus. I’m still learning what’s going to be successful here,” said Williamsen.
As the semester continues, Harris and Williamsen will be working with ASAP to develop more extensive programming. According to Harris, they will be working with individual groups and organizations, “[developing] ASAP and their ability to add to the programming, hosting big programs like this ‘Can I Kiss You?’ event, and support[ing] survivors in the middle of all that.”
“We’re building infrastructure, we’re building programs, we’re building relationships,” said Williamsen. “We built a new space! It’s a building year.”
This workshop was absolutely wonderful. I saw a lot of seniors in the audience. It’s a shame that this didn’t happen earlier in my Swarthmore career.
I think this workshop would be a great addition to orientation, but I can see its appeal as as event that continues the conversation throughout the year.
Kudos to ASAP and the administration for making this happen!