Date auctions devalue participants

It’s like human trafficking, but it happens on our campus. From time to time, student organizations will hold date auctions as a means of fundraising.

Until recently, I had never witnessed one. But a few weeks ago, I came across a date auction by chance. In the brief while that I watched, I was embarrassed by what I saw.

The organization played suggestive music as a young man prepared to take the stage. The auctioneer read off his credentials, and then the bidding began. Except it didn’t. Unlike the person that had gone before him, no one would place a bid.

While the organizations that hold these date auctions may be well intentioned, date auctions are distasteful and should be discontinued as a means of fundraising.

At the date auction I witnessed, the auctioneer had to step in and rally the crowd to bid for him. Someone eventually did, but it was after he had uncomfortably stood there for several minutes waiting on bids that never came.

Date auctions are insensitive. Throughout history, people have been bought and sold in the form of human trafficking. Selling people just to raise money for a cause makes light of what the survivors of human trafficking have had to endure. Being bought and sold is something that should be taken seriously, not done just to make a quick dollar.

When you tie a person’s worth to monetary value, you run the risk of lowering a person’s self-esteem. If someone gets bid on for a large amount of money, while the following person doesn’t get bid on at all, the latter won’t feel great. Sometimes there are even two-for-one “deals” on people that are hard to sell, further cheapening the individuals involved.

The Association of Commuter Students is hosting a charity date auction on Thursday, but I hope there aren’t any others after that.

Student organizations need money – I get it. In the future, however, these organizations should consider the social ramifications and effects on the participants before holding a date auction. If you need to raise money, sell things, not people.

Taylor Duckett is a junior majoring in economics.

April 9, 2014


Taylor Duckett

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