Playboy shakes up Vanier College

Photo by Madelayne Hajek
Photo by Madelayne Hajek
UPDATE: Vanier’s Student Association has since dropped Playboy Condoms as a sponsor for their winter carnival. Read the follow-up story here.

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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


  1. So the aim is to discredit people questioning the actions and decisions of the council, got it!Let’s say I’m not a member, or never was one the past 2 years, or wasn’t a student at Vanier. Let’s say the mobsquad, a group of future, current and past Vanier students getting together and discussing, was not active or didn’t even exist…
    There are quite a bit of people discontent. You are inviting such a brand into our school and yes, it is owned by the Playboy Enterprises:Their website (which has several buttons taking you straight to Playboy) is registered to “Playboy Enterprises International, Inc” as you can see here: in the “about” page of the Playboy Condoms website reconfirms it: 
    “Playboy is one of the most recognized and popular consumer brands in the world. Playboy Enterprises, Inc. (PEI) is a media and lifestyle company that markets the brand through a wide range of media properties and licensing initiatives.The Company publishes Playboy magazine in the United States and abroad and creates content for distribution via television networks, websites, mobile platforms and radio.” problem does NOT lay with promoting safe-sex. Out of all the options we could have picked, Playboy was chosen.VCSA has a $330,000 dollar budget this year. So no, there is no financial need the sponsorship. Maybe more of financial management?Also, VCSA hasn’t truly cared about promoting safe-sex. As we’ve seen in the previous years, during safe-sex week, VCSA hosts events like Drag Queen Bingo, where the prices are sex-toys and games. There’s also the sex hypnotist that is hired to hypnotise students to pretty much do sexual acts on stage. There are no actual educational informing or promoting of safe-sex. So it does make me question why VCSA are so cold-heartedly protecting Playboy now.

  2. Honestly? I have no issues whatsoever with Vanier College Student Association promoting safe sex, I encourage it. In fact VCSA has always been great during their safe sex campaigns (at least while I was there), making it fun for all and attracting lots of students. Distributing condoms is always the great way to go. They do so in high schools, why not in colleges and universities too? Heck, even distributing condoms at work would be great! YAY SAFE SEX! 

    However, I believe it was a bit of a faux pas to accept a brand name such as Playboy Condoms to sponsor their campaign this year. Although as stated by VCSA’s president, it is a total different company that licensed the name and logo of the actual PLAYBOY. Personally I wouldn’t give two cents about the name, but it doesn’t erase the fact that the word “Playboy” has an automatic attachment to “pornography” (aka sexism and degrading women) and that is a very sensitive issue for some. On that matter, VCSA as of lately has made too many faux pas (my V-Anime members would remember of the “forcing clubs to strike” issue from last Winter, as one of them). Therefore angering more than just one group or organization from the student body… Careful VCSA! It’s good to be bold, but recklessness has its price too. 

    Now as of The Concordian paper……… I have really ill faith in Concordia University’s media (that includes Concordia TV) especially with its “news reports” and bringing “facts”. All that since CTV’s live coverage during this spring’s students’ strikes. Of course, some reporters of the Concordia media remain exceptions. Misquoting the only two people you’ve interviewed for one small article, really Joel Ashak? I seriously hope you’re not heading for journalism as a career… Unless you plan to clean up your work and put some more care into it, good luck my man! 

  3. As a student in Vanier College, I’m happy that Anthony, through the mobsquad, is pushing to put an end to this. I mean playboy? Really? and I cant believe we weren’t informed about this, if it’s such a big event, us the students, should be aware of what’s going on, even if it isn’t decided for sure.

  4. simply promoting the name Playboy in a CEGEP is completely wrong (where lots of young students are still easily impressionable) especially considering how it is a company that promotes degrading images of women for men’s pleasure. I have yet to hear about playboy “actors” practicing safe sex in any of their “films”.

  5. Why should it matter if the Vanier College Mob Squad is not currently active? Anthony Kantara should be entitled to his own opinion, which clearly the same as many other Vanier students.
    Also, even if Playboy condoms are not the same enterprise as the brand
    itself, it still promotes the name”Playboy” which also promotes sexism
    and inequality toward women.

    1. woah what do you mean “clearly the same as many other Vanier students.” the article says 110 students signed the petition thats not a very large demographic.

      1. As i sayed” Many Vanier Students” , which can be defined as more than 2. Your point is? Also, not everyone that is opposed to that sponsorship are aware of the petition, so who knows how many people are actually agaisnt it.

  6. Though this article is informative, it is also somewhat misleading. As President of the Vanier College Students’ Association (my name is Alexander Liberio), I would like to clarify some points mentioned here in this article, since I was not interviewed concerning this issue.

    1) Winter Carnival is not annual, but rather it’s the first one [Taruna claims to have been misquoted].

    2)  Playboy condoms is not “the enterprise’s new condom brand”. In fact, the two companies are in no way related            except for the name (different company, different owner); they just licence the Playboy name and logo.

    3) “Anthony Kantara, member of the Vanier College Mob Squad”, is not a member of the VCSA, nor is the Vanier College Mob Squad currently active, since all active members have graduated and are no longer Vanier Students. It is therefore false that “the Vanier Mob Squad is actively 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.”

    4) VCSA is in fact, not the largest student association budget in the province (on the top of my head, I know that Dawson College has more students than Vanier and charges higher fees than the VCSA). [Anthony Kantara claims to have been misquoted].
    As it currently stands, our administration has decided not to allow Playboy Condoms into the school. This means that Playboy Condoms will not be necessarily sponsoring our event, since the next VCSA council meeting will decide either of the following: 
    a) whether to change venues 
    b) to negotiate with our administration
    c) to drop the Playboy sponsorship

    Finally, it should be mentioned that this issue was very contentious within the council, and our Special Projects Officer, Taruna Kaur, represents only one position from the VCSA council, and not the council as a whole. Though she was interviewed for this article since she was in charge of planning the event, she is not our official external spokesperson (Vice-President) nor our official spokesperson (President), and again, does therefore not represent the view of the complete council. Though the sponsorship motion was passed twice by a large majority, it was done so by the executive council, and never by a full council (where the opinion is much more evenly divided). Please take these amendments into account, and realize that this is an ongoing issue that is as of yet, unresolved.

    1. Hey Alex!

      Just want to point out a few facts.

      1) Dawson College is a separate organisation from the Dawson Student Union, unlike VCSA which is run by the college and not actually incorporated. Therefore it is the DSU that charges a fee, not the College. Our fee is $19 for a full time student and $9.50 for a part time student compared to the VCSA which charges full time students $25. Of course each is per semester. We run around the same budget though because of the larger student population.

      2) As a president of student association/union you should know that every student who pays that fee is a member of the VCSA, making Kantara a member, no matter how much you disagree with him.

      Last but not least, whether or not the Vanier Mob Squad still exists is irrelevant. It existed and obviously its membership did not entirely disappear and I am sure there are some active students who have since started at Vanier.

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