While some Yalies sell T-shirts or buttons to raise money, others sell themselves.
This past Friday, the inhabitants of the Beach Club, a Silliman party suite, ran a date auction in order to raise money and interest for the Silliman Screw this Friday. About 30 people attended the event, which raised $177 for a pre-party before the Screw.
Residents of the Beach Club — Chaim Bloom ’04, Alejandro Bribriesco ’04, Paul Christensen ’04, Byron Igoe ’04, and Conor O’Toole ’04 — said they were not selling sex, but rather dates with the auctionees. Christensen said he and his suitemates ran the auction with the intention of reviving interest in the Silliman Screw. Proceeds from the auction will fund a pre-party, and the Screw is the suggested destination for buyers and their purchases.
The “meat market” asked for opening bids of $1, and the high bid for a single person was $17.
Christensen said he and his suitemates did not want the event to be “a cliquey thing” involving only their friends. Instead, Bribriesco said that they basically picked people out of a hat.
“We tried to pick people who [would] be fun, interesting dates and are somewhat attractive,” Christensen said.
One future auctionee, who declined to use his name, said he was flattered when the Beach Club asked him to participate.
“It’s not every day that a Yalie gets the chance to be objectified in the way that most other college students are every weekend,” he said.
But while some prospective auctionees gave a resounding yes to the Beach Club’s invitation, others were hesitant.
The auction’s coordinators had originally planned to recruit three or four from each class, but they had trouble finding willing participants.
“No one seems to want to be sold,” O’Toole said.
Date auctions have been uncommon at Yale in the past, and some prospective participants and audience members said they had trouble taking the organizers seriously.
“I didn’t know whether they were serious,” said Basil Williams ’04, who was surprised when he received an invitation to participate in the Beach Club’s auction.
But Williams, along with the other auctionees, soon found that the event was legitimate.
“I want to see who’s interested,” Williams said prior to the auction. He added that the last time he was in a date auction, part of the fun was that the top bidders were girls he did not know — girls like Sarah Moros ’05, who learned of the event through friends.
“I took it seriously because my friends took it seriously,” Moros said.
On the auctioning block, some were happy to dance for the crowd or respond to chants of “Shirt! Shirt! Shirt!” as the night wore on.
Others were more reserved. One student rushed to put his shirt back on after being convinced to take it off by his friends. Another danced before and after being bid on, but refused to do so in front of the crowd.
But after the event ended, the organizers recognized that the auction was not all that it could have been.
“I don’t think people took us seriously,” Bribriesco said. “For a trial run, this was a success.”
Bribriesco added that it took a little while to get the crowd involved.
“It would have been really great if people were really drunk and if they had advertised better,” said another auctionee.
Moros, an “outside bidder,” said she wished there had been more bidders like herself.
“I thought it was just a bunch of friends bidding on each other,” Moros said. “When I bid, I didn’t bid seriously. I just did it to see the reaction.”
But Moros said she would consider bidding seriously at another date auction if other “outside bidders” were doing so.
“I found it entertaining in a stupid sort of way,” she said.
Members of the Beach Club said they saw nothing wrong with the prevalence of “inside bidding.”
“People were having fun,” Christensen said.
The Beach Club hopes to host a larger auction next semester.
“Expect to hear from us again,” Christensen said.
“I think we’re generally in favor of the peddling of flesh,” Bloom said jokingly.