Guelph’s wet T-shirt trouble

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

January 12, 2007 Ed Cartoon

A Guelph strip club, The Manor, is offering a “graduated” wet T-shirt contest. Entrants are paid $50 to $100 to participate, and each weekly winner receives $500. After three months, the weekly winners are invited back for the opportunity to win $5,000.

Controversy arose because The Manor is marketing the five grand as a “tuition giveaway.” The University of Guelph is disappointed with the strip joint’s decision, as it doesn’t want its reputation pockmarked by such activities.

From a marketing perspective, The Manor’s competition is quite smart; it helps recruit attractive young female students, college or university, from the Guelph area. This, in turn, might entice more male students " as well as the older crowd " to frequent the club in hopes of glimpsing the school’s women onstage.

But the university’s concern is understandable. Associations between the club and university are bound to crop up, especially when hearsay and gossip circulate. Word of mouth can quickly spin out of control, leading to comments like “Did you hear what’s happening at Guelph University?” rather than “Did you hear what’s happening at The Manor?” Though no significant damage is likely, the university’s reputation is still potentially compromised.

Most importantly, there are concerns regarding safety and underage participation. Minors will always sneak into bars, but with university students often as young as 17 years old, one must be particularly wary of the problems that could arises by drawing students from campus into the club.

Some might argue The Manor is acting amoral and should act responsibly with its promotions. But stereotyping makes it easy to assume a wet T-shirt participant is uneducated or being exploited. Many intelligent women have used stripping to pay their way through school, and the university student entering the wet T-shirt contest might be the same woman sitting next to you in class " the same woman who has consistently received higher marks than you.

These women participate of their on volition. Most understand what they are getting into, and obviously some feel a few minutes onstage is worth paying off their tuition.

The University of Guelph has respected this. In spite of its justifiable displeasure with the situation, the school’s reaction has been fair and mature; it has stated it disapproves of the competition and has stuck to existing policy (like banning fliers or leaflets from campus).

Beyond that, the university has done little. It hasn’t tried to shield its students or place them in a bubble.

If anything, Guelph can take solace in the fact that it’s grooming critical thinkers " ones who will make the right decisions for themselves.

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