Auction aids students

Craving fine Nicaraguan cigars? Five hours of Hebrew lessons? A bowling trip with “J-Pod,” aka School of Management Dean Joel Podolny?

You’ll have to wait until next year.

School of Management students — dressed in accordance with a “Treasure Island” theme — line up Thursday for an auction fundraiser to support students’ low-paying summer internships.
Chris Young
School of Management students — dressed in accordance with a “Treasure Island” theme — line up Thursday for an auction fundraiser to support students’ low-paying summer internships.

These and other items were featured in fiercely competitive auctions at the School of Management this week. Organized by the Internship Fund, an SOM club that funds students’ low-paying summer internships in the nonprofit and government sectors, the event raised money by selling off an eclectic array of student, faculty and alumni donations. Students bid on items via silent and online auctions, culminating Thursday in a raucous celebration with a live auction of the remaining items. Students said that out of all the social events on the SOM calendar, the annual auction ranks among the most popular activities.

“It’s a great event and great tradition,” Spencer Hutchins SOM ’07 said.

This year’s auction took place in three phases. The items went online two weeks ago, followed by a silent auction that began last Monday and then, finally, last night’s live auction, during which attendants observed the party’s pirate-themed “Treasure Island” dress code. Tables laden with items up for auction have lined the school’s hallways for the last week, ensuring that the entire student body took notice of the event, auction coordinator David Liu SOM ’08 said.

“When people can walk by it every day on their way to class, it generates energy and buzz,” Liu said, adding that he expected the final hours of the silent auction to be “really hectic.”

Donations streamed in from students, faculty, local businesses and corporations. Some of the donors of the 26 live-auction items — including a student-planned Karaoke party and dance lessons — offered a sample of their contributions at the event last night.

Gloria Wang SOM ’07, one of the organizers of last year’s auction, said the Internship Fund also solicits donations through various other fundraisers, including a student pledge drive, the SOM student-run “Food for Thought” cafe, alumni donations and a contribution from the dean. Liu said the auction accounted for $38,800 of the $156,100 the club raised last year. Students receiving the club’s subsidies must volunteer in some aspect of SOM life, Wang said.

Students said the auction visibly demonstrated the intimacy of the SOM community, even though the money raised was earmarked only for first-year students pursuing summer internships. The MBA program lasts two years.

“I think it’s just a function of the community that the school has fostered throughout the years,” Wang said.

Winners of the auctioned items said they enjoyed a dual benefit: the satisfaction of supporting their peers and the purchase itself. Gregg Friedman SOM ’08 said that while he appreciated the ability to help out his fellow first-year students, winning 10 hours of Hebrew lessons donated by the SOM’s only Israeli student was an intriguing victory in itself.

“Part of it is you want to help, and the other part is, why not?” Friedman said.

Auction organizers said the event faced unique fundraising obstacles this year due to a smaller first-year class combined with changes to the school’s curriculum and calendar. But they hoped donations would stay on par with last year’s $38,000, they said. The total amount of money raised this year was not known at press time.

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