Bidding Wars Ensue for Top Professors

March 03, 2017

Rafi Mueen bids along with his friend Cardy Wei. Photo by Alex Liu courtesy of the ESC

In an unusual twist of roles, students got a chance to bid on their professors on the first day of March. It was not part of some radical shift in registration, but rather an annual auction to raise funds for the Engineering Student Council (ESC). Instead of bidding on objects, students bid mostly on extra-curricular experiences with professors and some key administrators. Go to a rifle range with Professor Medvedik! Meditate with Professor Sidebotham! In a first, President Laura Sparks offered two home-cooked meals for six guests each. Bidding was high.

"The whole point of the auction is not just to raise money for Fun Committee or ESC but rather to also develop relationships between student and professor that can be mutually beneficial to both," Gabriela Godlewski, a sophomore civil engineering student and ESC Treasurer, says. "Professors get to know their students to better understand them and therefore improve their own teaching, whereas students develop relationships that could lead to research opportunities or recommendations"

The evening auction was live with around 100 students participating. Bidding "wars" broke out over President Sparks' dinners as well as an offer from the Center for Career Development to pay for a variety of career-boosting professional tests, society memberships and conference passes. Many items on the docket were offers of lunch or dinner out. While most were with engineering faculty, some members of HSS donated experiences, including a tour of the Guggenheim museum with Professor Diego Malquori.

The event earned the ESC over $3,000, according to Godlewski, more than double last year's take. The money is used to pay for student activities like free midnight pancakes during exams. "The money we raised exceeded expectations so the ESC is coming up with ideas for how to best spend it," Godlewski says.  "I will personally see to it that wherever the money goes will benefit as many students as possible."

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