Vanier College’s administration rejected the student association’s wish for Playboy Condoms to sponsor their upcoming winter festival last Tuesday, thus depriving them of their sole sponsor for the event and ending a contentious dispute.
In an article published on Oct. 16, The Concordian revealed that the VCSA established a verbal deal with Playboy Condoms, a condom company that shares the Playboy Enterprise’s name and associated with their trademark bunny logo, to sponsor their end of semester party.
In exchange for space on campus to promote their products and safe sex practices during the event, the company promised a financial and material contribution to help the student association organize the event.
According to Monique Magnan, director of student services at Vanier, a previously planned management executive committee meeting held last Tuesday, led to the unanimous agreement on the ineligibility of the VCSA’s chosen sponsor. Following the meeting, the committee contacted the VCSA to demand the student executives cancel any possible deal with Playboy Condoms.
“Although the VCSA has a certain margin of autonomy, they need the school’s permission to have external business companies on campus,” said Magnan. “We collectively agreed that the school could not have a company harbouring Playboy’s image on campus, one related to pornography and exploitation of women for 60 years […] whether the company is directly related to Playboy Enterprise or not.”
VCSA President Alexander Liberio said that in face of the “controversy,” the VCSA council will be addressing the issue during a regular meeting to decide whether they wanted to continue with the event on campus and follow the school’s directives to sacrifice the sponsorship, to negotiate with the administration, or to take the winter festival to a different location in order to keep the sponsor.
“Now that we have a full council, there’s much more division on the matter and not everybody is in favour of [the sponsorship] like it was the case in summer,” said Liberio, who insisted he opposed the contract from the beginning. “Given the controversy, I wouldn’t think we would go with Playboy Condoms again for any future events.”
According to Liberio, Vanier’s students services’ office approved the sponsorship when they were first notified in September but then decided to vet it through their committee following rising tensions.
Conversely, Magnan told The Concordian she never approved of the sponsorship. After Taruna Kaur-Singh, VCSA’s special projects officer, approached her a second time with the idea on Oct. 11, Magnan asked her to hold off the deal until she consulted the executive committee. This was something Kaur-Singh ignored, according to Magnan, and continued with the deal until Oct.16.
Magnan explained that the VCSA’s liberty to initiate the deal without the school administration’s permission was based on “miscommunication and inexperience.”
She also went on to say that misunderstandings of a similar nature are rare at the college. According to Magnan, the VCSA and administration are usually in constant communication with one another.
“The idea is also to use this experience to educate student executives about the company they chose and the values it promotes,” she added.
Magnan notably insisted that, unlike some of the other schools that Playboy Condoms will be visiting during their sexual awareness “Playin’ It Safe” tour, Vanier College is a CÉGEP and not a community college.
“CÉGEPS still keep a high school feeling,” she said. “Many of our students are 16 or 17 and Vanier College cannot be associated with Playboy, mainly because the company does not share the values we want to disseminate among our students, even though we do promote safe sex.”
Anthony Kantara of the Vanier Mob Squad, the group behind a petition launched last summer against the sponsorship, said he was pleased by the school’s decision to disallow the bunny logo on campus but wished both the VCSA and the school administration kept the student body more informed about their decisions.
Playboy Condoms representatives have since been contacted by both the VCSA and the school administration, and the posting of Vanier College as one of the destinations of the “Playin’ It Safe” tour was officially taken down from their website on Oct. 20.
“It is a shame we had to go to Playboy Condoms’ website to see the cancellation,” added Kantara.