This year’s Senior Auction, organized by the Senior Class Committee, at the Grand Hyatt Washington on Feb. 1 raised $190,000 through auction lots, some of which sold for upward of $10,000.
The SCC obtained items sold at the auction by donation.
“Mostly, we contacted people and organizations who have donated in the past.” SCC Fundraising Chair Maggie Cleary (COL ’14) said.
The SCC additionally received donations from parents of the senior class.
“We reached out to faculty staff, who are wonderful and give some great things every year. Parents give some of the most unique items.” SCC Chairman Cody Cowan (SFS ’14) said. “A family of a student generously donated a week’s stay at a gorgeous villa in Mexico, which I think was the evening’s highest bidding item.”
Some of the top-grossing items included the stay at the Mexican villa ($20,000), an open bar party at Rhino Bar and Pumphouse ($17,000) and an African safari package ($11,000). Other high-bid items included a stay at a Brittany Chateau ($15,000), a party on the Esplanade ($10,000) and a party on the lawn of the Georgetown observatory ($7,000).
In addition to the price paid for the lots, winning bidders will have to provide supplemental materials for the parties, themselves.
“The reservations for the Esplanade and Observatory parties are provided by the Office of Campus Activity Facilities (OCAF). The individuals who won those items will provide the materials, catering, equipment, etc. for the events themselves,” Center for Student Engagement Director Erika Cohen Derr said. “The events must comply with all university policies for those spaces, and the staff from OCAF will work with the families who won those items to ensure that they can effectively use the spaces.”
The auction included a number of very unique items, many of which sold very well. A barstool from The Tombs sold for $3,500 and a set of clock hands from Healy clock tower sold for $7,000.
The Healy clock tower hands were procured when the SCC contacted the administration and inquired about their availability for an auction item.
“We ended up contacting an office internally within Georgetown and asked if they could be an item we could auction off and they sold them to us,” Cleary said. “We had someone who was on the Senior Class Committee who had a contact within a different office in the university who contacted them and asked to see if we could auction them off and they said yes that they could order an additional pair and they would be x amount of dollars, so we paid that.”
Some of the items donated by parents included stays at vacation homes and other experiences, amongst other items.
“We actually had two tote bags made by a parent of the senior class that had little bulldogs and the Georgetown logo on them, they went for a couple hundred a piece, which was very cool,” Cowan said. “We also had a set of handmade Adirondack chairs, which were really great.”
A dinner for eight at Wolfington Hall with Fr. Kevin O’Brien S.J., Vice president of Mission and ministry, sold for $10,000.
“I was grateful for the generosity of the bidders to offer such a high price, even more than last year,” O’Brien said. “This is a gift of the Jesuit Community to the senior class to support a very good cause: making Senior Week events, including the Senior Ball, more accessible for students and their families.”
As part of senior parent’s weekend, the event is meant to raise money for senior week events. This year, 810 tickets were sold and around 400 families attended.
The funds from this year will subsidize senior ball tickets in the form of free or discounted tickets for students who cannot afford the regular price.
The high price of items, however, may discourage some from participating in graduation activities.
“I offered something for the senior auction because I hate the idea of a student not participating in graduation activities because of a lack of financial resources,” Professor Marcia Chatelain who offered a culinary tour of D.C., which sold for $80, said. “If sharing my love of D.C. and food history can help, I’m happy to donate my time.”
The exclusive nature of the event causes low accessibility to students and families. On Jan. 31, Georgetown University Student Association President Nate Tisa (SFS ’14) published a viewpoint in THE HOYA, “Auction Sells Out the Senior Class.”
Tisa called the event “simply unaffordable,” and stated that the event “prices out many of the Hoyas that the SCC exists to serve.”
However, according to Cleary, the auction serves the students of Georgetown.
“The auction is meant to serve the students of Georgetown, and it does that very well by raising large sums of money to help all students to enjoy senior week later in the year,” Cleary said.
Cowan additionally found the gains of the event to outweigh the consequences of its exclusivity.
“Sometimes you have to have a exclusive event in order to raise the funds to have an inclusive event,” Cowan said. “We raised so much money that we could conceivably either give free tickets to everyone who used to get financial aid tickets to senior ball, or we could double the number of financial aid tickets to senior ball.”