On Thursday, February 4, the Equal Justice Foundation held its annual auction in order to raise funds for students who will be dedicating their summers to public service. On Friday, February 5, several pockets were lighter– here’s to you, $1,200 donor for a game night with Fran DeLaurentis– but the overwhelming majority of attendees were innumerably richer. In funding, perhaps, but in spirit, certainly. Not only were participants treated to whimsically-themed baked goods, chicken wings and sangria, but they were also serenaded by the dulcet tones of one Marty Lederman: professor of Constitutional Law, former Deputy Assistant Attorney General in the Department of Justice’s Office of Legal Counsel, and most notably, Taylor Swift aficionado.
The Equal Justice Foundation is a student organization that provides guaranteed funding for Georgetown students that are spending their summers in unpaid public interest positions. The proceeds from this annual fundraising event bolster the funds that students receive.
As attendees filed into Hart Auditorium early that evening, they were given the opportunity to enroll in a door prize drawing which included several Barbri prep course coupons and one all-inclusive Royal Caribbean Cruise. Bidding paddles were distributed and refreshments provided for the arduous journey downstairs, all of which (aside from perhaps the chicken wings) were in keeping with the Alice and Wonderland theme that permeated the night. Much like Alice, I did in fact feel that I was growing as I finished my fifth baked good, which I can only speculate was the intention of the planning committee. And O! The baked goods! There were brownies, there were miniature pies, there were cookies of all shapes and sizes. After sampling the smorgasbord, participants reluctantly made their way from the refreshments to the auction hall, née Hart Auditorium, ushered in by the harmonies of EJF member Joel Nolette.
From the jump the atmosphere was lively, beginning with an endearing (and vaguely threatening) introduction from Dean Cornblatt. Professor Lederman acted as chief auctioneer and, presumably, master of ceremonies, presenting such treasures as sailing on the Potomac with Professor Stevenson and champagne brunch with Professor Cashin. The first bid, aggressively entitled “LIE TO A PROFESSOR and live to tell the tale,” included a game night with Professor Super and provoked a spirited back-and-forth. Several intrepid students engaged in dogged bidding wars, driving prices up into the high hundreds and, notably, the low thousands (supra). Some of the hotter commodities included a canoe trip with Professor Babcock, lunch at Art & Soul with Dean Treanor, and afternoon tea at Professor Pasachoff’s. At some point during the festivities and for reasons that I can’t or won’t remember, Professor Lederman broke out into a haunting rendition of a Swift single.
All in all, I think it’s fair to declare the auction a great success; the ability to keep law students present and engaged in a non-academic pursuit for over three hours is no small feat. The event raised $54,000, between the live auction, silent auction and direct donations, which translates to around $100 per eligible student. EJF Chair Emily Griffith agreed the event was a success. Based on EJF estimates, event attendance tripled.
“The EJF Wonderland Auction was a major success this year and we are so grateful to all who helped make it happen,” said Griffith. “We still have a lot of work ahead of us this semester to add meaningful funding to the guaranteed stipend, but it’s a great start and was a true team effort!”
EJF’s campaign to support public interest students is far from over. The One Day for Justice drive, beginning later this month, will ask students with private sector jobs to donate one day of their salary to an unpaid public interest student. “f you want to be involved in One Day for Justice or any other EJF events join us on OrgSync and stay tuned for more volunteer and donor opportunities to come,” Griffith added.
Videos and photos from the night can be found on the Equal Justice Foundation’s Facebook page, while a detailed description of the organization and its past fundraising efforts are available on its blog.