The next speaker in an ongoing lecture series on men’s issues will be talking about why some young men are disengaged with college and university—something he blames, in part, on the anti-date-rape talks given to freshmen.

The Canadian Association For Equality has hosted a number of lectures on men’s issues and is currently raising money to set up a men’s centre in Toronto. Friday’s talk is by Miles Groth, editor of the journal New Male Studies.

In an interview with Metro, Groth said he will be speaking about the decline in men’s enrolment in post-secondary education, which he puts as anywhere between 35 to 44 per cent of total enrolment. Having men’s centres on campuses could be a forum to discuss this issue, he said.

Groth said he will also talk about why young male students report they don’t feel that welcome on campuses.

Asked what accounts for the trend of declining male enrolment, he said one reason is that date rape is discussed in the orientation seminars given to new students.

“Some of the content of these seminars, which are now very common in colleges and universities, set these boys coming in, set them up as being potentially dangerous, and potentially harmful, particularly to women on campus,” he said.

“There are, for example, date-rape seminars that are de rigueur for nearly all first-year student programs.”

Groth questioned whether the date-rape talks are “overkill” and “whether in fact it might not be wiser to talk about this in a broader way, let’s say for example, courtesy between boys and girls on campus, regardless of who’s behaving, males or females.”

A second reason for young men feeling unwelcome is that some courses appear to better reflect young women’s university lives, he said.

Groth’s comments come after a controversy over frosh chants that glorify non-consensual sex—or rape—of young women at two Canadian schools this year.

Counsellor with Toronto Rape Crisis Centre/Multicultural Women Against Rape deb signh said educating young men and women about sexual assault in college and university is “crucial,” considering the number of sexual assaults that take place on campuses. A key reason to educate young people is sexual violence is normalized and they can often have a very narrow definition of what is rape, what is sexual violence and what is wrong.

“Talking about sexual violence is about letting people know that if you’re drunk with someone and they said no, or they can’t say yes or no because they’re too intoxicated and you still go ahead with something anyways, guess what, that’s sexual violence, that’s sexual assault,” she said. “It’s about learning what it is.”

Her experience counselling women who’ve been sexually assaulted tells her how many misconceptions there are about sexual assault, she said. Often, women tell her that they’re not sure if they were raped because when it happened they were too impaired to resist, or even if they had said no, they had gone to the person’s room, or feel they hadn’t said no forcefully enough. But, in all of those cases, what happened was sexual assault.

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