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Vanier College’s winter carnival has a new controversial sponsor which is creating waves on campus and beyond. The CÉGEP accepted the offer to have Playboy Condoms, a new brand of condoms bearing the Playboy name, sponsor the carnival.
As part of their sexual awareness “Playin’ It Safe Tour” in seven different CÉGEPs and universities in Canada, Playboy Condoms will be on campus during the Vanier winter festival on Dec. 7, 2012 to promote their new product.
In exchange, the bunny logo company pledged a financial contribution to the Vanier College Student Association for prizes, games and contests organized for the event, as well as investing in goodies.
As expected, the idea was not welcomed by all students at Vanier College and quickly triggered a petition pressuring the VCSA to break the deal.
Anthony Kantara, member of the Vanier College Mob Squad that created the petition, said he was concerned about the increasing corporate presence on campus.
“The fact that it’s a company that is mostly linked to pornography is even more worrying,” Kantara said. “School should be a sacred institution without commercial influence, especially not Playboy’s.”
The petition created last summer, has been signed by 110 individuals so far. It states that although “the VCSA claims [the sponsorship] is ‘OK’ since [Playboy Condoms] is promoting safe sex,” they demanded that the student union cancel any deal with a company that is connected to pornography, as well as “sexist and degrading [content] toward women.”
According to Taruna Kaur-Singh, VCSA special projects officer and student leader behind the sponsorship deal, the arrangement is not yet “set in stone.”
Since a contract has yet to be finalized, Kaur-Singh could not reveal a precise figure regarding the contribution from Playboy Condoms but explained she accepted the deal mainly for financial reasons.
“I am a woman too and I understand why this sponsorship is perceived as offensive to some but I also had to think about the financial needs for the event and my business side took over,” she said.
In response, Kantara claimed that Vanier College has one of the largest CÉGEP student association budgets in the province.
“Money is not an issue in this debate,” said Kantara. “The executives are just looking for an excuse to try to make the event more fun.”
Kaur-Singh said the idea was also to attract a certain demographic “that don’t usually participate in school activities but who would recognize a brand like Playboy.” She also emphasized the benefits of raising awareness regarding safe sex.
But the Vanier Mob Squad said it was not an excuse for making a deal without consulting the student body and keeping students uninformed on the nature of the arrangement.
During the summer, VCSA voted twice on council on whether or not to make Playboy Condoms a sponsor for the event. According to Kaur-Singh, both votes were in favour of the deal, the first one passing unanimously and the second one — after the creation of the petition — passed by a “large majority.”
Kaur-Singh said that although she did not have the chance to discuss offers with other businesses because of time constraints, Playboy Condoms was the only company to offer a sponsorship so far.
While Playboy Condoms already started investing money in producing T-shirts, pamphlets and other products for the occasion, the Vanier Mob Squad is trying to mobilize the teacher’s and parent’s association to pressure VCSA on holding off the deal until the decision is taken to a vote in a general assembly.
Kaur-Singh admitted she heard some teachers were concerned by the sponsorship and said she was still looking into the matter. She also affirmed that the deal could be cancelled at any moment, which would implicate cutting into other expenses but without requiring compensation to the condom company.
On their part, Playboy Condoms has already announced Vanier College as one of their destinations of the “Playin’ It Safe Tour” on their website.
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11:20 a.m. 17/10/2012 – Corrections made to story