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HASA auctions off a night on the town

There’s just one word to describe the Haitian American Student Association (HASA) Date Auction last Thursday night: hot. Between the crowds crammed into the Herter Annex Thursday night and the physiques of those volunteering to be auctioned off, the HASA Date Auction was sweltering.

The second annual HASA Date auction was a tremendous success as volunteers from the University of Massachusetts Amherst, Amherst College, Smith College and American International College auctioned off their time to raise money for the HASA/CASA cultural event and the HASA Fresh Start Scholarship. The event opened at 7 p.m. on Thursday, with music from DJs Abdoulie Senesie and Parkie Mbianda of MashUp Entertainment. By the time the auctioning began at 8 p.m., it was standing room only, and people were lined up along the walls of Herter Annex to win a date with the volunteers.

“It went really, really well,” said HASA President Leo Jean-Louis. “We had people come in from all the different colleges, which we didn’t have last year.

The HASA eboard members worked really hard to put this together, and I think they did a great job.”

The event was hosted by Octavia Farquharson of the Black Student Union and Edward Jean Louis of the Omega Psi Phi Fraternity. The event featured performances from Tamika Brinson from Smith College and the South Asian Student Alliance dance team.

Male and female volunteers were escorted to the stage while the DJ played a song of their choice and the host read a description provided to HASA by the volunteers. The bidding started between five and 10 dollars and went as high as 60 or 70 dollars. The heat continued to rise throughout the night as volunteers went to extreme levels to win bids from the audience. Shirts were taken off, booties were flaunted and butt cheeks exposed as one misinformed Kappa thought dropping his pants would be a good way to up his bidding.

The bidders won a date with the volunteers to a local business with vouchers provided by HASA.

“Each HASA eboard member was required to go out and ask for restaurant vouchers or any vouchers that the auctionee and bidder could use on a date,” said Jean-Louis. “Some of the restaurants that helped with the cause were Antonio’s, Arizona Pizza, Buffalo Wings, Chez Albert, Interskate 91 and Laser Storm and the Cinemark Theater in the Hampshire Mall.”

The money raised by the Date Auction is intended to help support the annual HASA/CASA cultural event in the spring, an event in which Haitian and Dominican students collaborate to celebrate the style and rhythms of Hispaniola through performances and food.  

“It’s a good event to raise money for the RSO,” said auctionee and Alpha Phi Alpha Incorporated member Jason Barrell. “I’m in an RSO myself, so I know how hard it can be to raise money for these things.”

Proceeds also went to support the HASA Fresh Start Scholarship, which  provides two $200 book vouchers to students who demonstrate academic excellence and have community service experience. Applicants must be undergraduates at UMass with a minimum GPA of 3.0, and must demonstrate an interest in Haiti it’s culture. 

Nia Schenk, an auctionee from Smith College, said that she agreed to participate in the event “for the novelty of it and to support the scholarship. I’m a scholarship student myself, so I know what it’s like. One of the main reasons people don’t go to college is the expense. This is giving people the chance to get a better education and a better life.”

The auction was interspersed with performances from various RSO’s and Five College groups. There was singing from HASA members, a Bollywood-style dance routine from SASA and a special performance from members of the Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity. The Kappas ended the night by dancing for a handful of female audience members, whose reactions ranged from delight to mortification.

The event was an overall success, bringing in money for a good cause and some needed laughter to midterm-burdened students. According to Jean-Louis, the event is likely to happen again next year.

“We’re trying to make it an annual thing,” he said. “I’d love for HASA to have it again next year.” Applications for the HASA Fresh Start scholarship are available in the Center for Student Development Resource Room in the Student Union. The deadline to apply is December 1, 2009.

Rachel Dougherty can be reached at rdougher@student.umass.edu.

Comments
One Response to “HASA auctions off a night on the town”
  1. Melinda Nielsen says:

    Excellently-done story. So glad to see coverage of RSOs’ good efforts.

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