Eliot House Auction Creates Controversy

Keren E. Rohe

Take a trip to Eliot House and you'll find things a bit astir. The reason? Eliot's annual Date Auction, though not scheduled to take place until February, has already sparked significant debate within the House community. The discussion was triggered by a seemingly innocuous source: the House newsletter, The Elephant in the Room, which currently features a Date Auction "pro and con" on each side of the bulletin.

The Elephant makes some bold statements, including a comparison of the Date Auction to human trafficking, which many students said caught them off guard. "I think the comparison to human trafficking was a bit much," Elena M. Pepe '13 said.

The newsletter also claims that the large amount of money involved in the auction "reinforces a strong class division within our House," an objection that has been taken more seriously among those in the Eliot community than complaints over human trafficking. "The most compelling argument I've encountered is that it might exclude those participants who are not capable of putting up large bids," David R. Gridier '14 said.

Jordan E. Sessler '13, charity chair of the Eliot House Committee and the organizer of last year's event, said that he is confused regarding the sudden uproar. "There's never been a debate about the Date Auction before," he said, adding that last year "everyone said it was incredible, people came up and said it was the best event we'd had in Eliot."

Many Eliot residents—particularly sophomores—are unclear as to what the auction will actually accomplish. "A lot of people who are criticising it weren't at the event [last year]," Sessler said. Meanwhile, those who were tend to support the auction's return. "I went last year and didn't bid on anything and didn't feel uncomfortable," Pepe said. "The main spirit is getting people together and raising money for a cause."

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