Being surrounded by secret service agents, pacing the halls of the White House and shouting orders to lowly staffers has never been easier. Well, sort of--and for the right price.
At 7 p.m. tomorrow in the ARCO Forum of Public Affairs, the Institute of Politics will hold its 11th annual auction to benefit its Summer Internship Fund.
Items up for bid include a non-speaking, walk-on role in the season finale of the hit NBC drama "The West Wing," lunch with NBC anchor Tom Brokaw and dinner for two with the candidates before this fall's presidential debate at the John F. Kennedy Library.
Organizers expect 300 or 400 people to listen to jazz and participate in the silent auction, led by a professional auctioneer and by IOP Director Alan K. Simpson.
This year, for the second time, the Kennedy School of Government's office in Washington, D.C. will video conference their party in the nation's capital with the one in Cambridge, so another 100 people can participate.
The Kennedy School's Associate Director of Career Services Jennifer N. Armini said the money raised will support students who choose to spend their summers working for nonprofit or public organizations.
"It isn't a tool to convince people [to do public service], it's more about helping enable people," she said. "People feel good about this event."
Last year 52 students applied for money but only 28 received awards, so the fund hopes to improve on its earnings this year.
"We're still turning people away, so we need to raise as much money as possible," said Madeline C. Pill, a masters degree candidate and one of the 18 student organizers for the Summer Internship Fund.
The Fund gets its auction items from a variety of sources.
"We tap into networks," Pill said. "We pull in everyone we know and ask them to come up with things."
Armini said the Fund has done well working its connections. For example, one student has a friend who works for a resort company, so he helped arrange a week vacation at the Enchanted Garden Resort and Spa in Jamaica.
One of the auction's biggest coups this year is the walk-on role on "The West Wing," which Alumni and Development Programs Director Curtis Nelson was able to procure from her future brother-in-law, Paul S. Redford, who is an executive story editor for the television program.
"The big perk would be free donuts. We can't get them a line because of union rules," he said.
But even with these restrictions, Redford said the part is worth a bid.
"Hopefully someone in government will see how we do things," he added. "When you see the lights and the cameras, there's a romance to it."
Another item involves shadowing U.S. Rep. Tom Davis (R-Va.), an activity his press secretary David L. Marin '91 said will be quite the experience.
"He's a real popular guy because he's all over the place," he said. "One of the greatest things about my job is I don't have to pay to shadow him."
The organizers don't know which item or outing will thrill the crowd this year, but a week in Ambassador Swanee Hunt's ranch in Colorado topped the list last year with a $4,000 price tag and that's up for auction again.
Pill said the students have targeted business school and law school students to bring more money to the auction, but they plan on making the event welcoming to Kennedy School students as well.
A raffle, with $5 tickets, is meant to "democratize" the process.
"It's a way of getting everybody a chance," Pill said.