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Caught on campus
Playboy goes academic
By Becky Somerville
Playboy magazine has been targeting campuses across the country Western included.
In a recent initiative to appeal to a younger audience, Playboy has been seeking the support of volunteer representatives to market the magazine on campuses around North America.
Alison Raleigh, college marketing manager for Playboy Enterprises, said over 200 student representatives, including one at Western, have recently been selected to promote Playboy.
"[The representatives] take the Playboy philosophy to a college level and make it palatable to college audiences," Raleigh said. She added the representatives are not recruiting women models for the magazine nor do they engage in corporate advertising.
The recent appearance of flyers displaying Playboy's bunny head logo and inviting university students to promotional parties, however, has been met with mixed feelings.
"I think that Playboy perpetuates negative stereotypes in our society about women and men," said Patty Thomson, director of the Dalhousie women's centre.
Thomson said students have been bombarded by the Playboy logo all over campus an imposition which she sees as both scary and belittling to students.
"This is not right in our community. It's not fair. We don't want this on campus," Thomson said.
Raleigh, who said Playboy has no contract or affiliation with the universities, insists the magazine is not portraying a negative image of women.
"To have women offended by the rabbit head or another naked woman, I think is horrible," Raleigh said. "I think women should be proud of their bodies."
She added other Canadian universities such as McMaster, Queen's and McGill have Playboy representatives who have not received criticism from campus groups.
First-year science student and Western's Playboy representative Brian Slowey said he applied for the position through the magazine's web site in October in order to gain marketing experience and receive free Playboy paraphernalia.
"I want to use Playboy as a vehicle to throw wicked parties," Slowey said. He added while he has not organized any Playboy parties yet, he does not see it as something which would offend students at Western.
Claudia Philipsz, coordinator of the women's issues network at Western, said Playboy perpetuates a structure of women as sex symbols an image which needs to be dispelled. "It's still important to break the old beliefs and stereotypes."