Senior Honor Society Holds Art Auction


Elli Ament, Staff Writer

The Senior Honor Society held its annual auction last week to support two local indigenous groups. The virtual, silent auction ran from April 19 through April 25, with all proceeds benefiting Akweku Osh^he Yukwayote, a nonprofit run by nine Oneida woman and the Shako:wi Cultural Center, a cultural nonprofit that educates and preserves the tradition of the Oneida nation. The annual event was held as an art auction for the first time this year, featuring items including handmade earrings, custom painted jackets, photo prints of campus and hand-painted art by students at their recent art-making events.

“Obviously, this year [the auction] had to take a different shape because of COVID-19, but we also wanted to think through how to build community through our auction, which we had heard had waned in participation in the past few years,” Senior Honor Society vice president Jake Gómez said. “We thought that highlighting the talent of our community could be a way to expand the auction to more parts of campus, as well as making the auction totally virtual.”

Junior Eliza Leal, a recent inductee to the Senior Honor Society, said her and other new inductees’ roles in the event included staffing the group’s free community art-making events that took place April 8, 13 and 20. 

“We’ve been helping out with volunteering, getting supplies and getting the word out,” Leal said. “It was definitely a community-based effort so we could have a diverse selection on the auction website.”  

Junior Jack Underhill, who worked alongside Leal as a recent inductee to the Senior Honor Society, reflected on Colgate’s history with the Oneida people being closely tied to the auction. 

“Our participation as students at Colgate is connected intimately to the exploitation of indigenous lands, and supporting indigenous people has been a focus of the Senior Honor Society this year, including the effort towards a name change,” Underhill said. “Acknowledging this and working to support those groups today is imperative.”

Underhill also noted how the auction can help bring awareness and conversation about Colgate’s relationship with the Oneida people.

“By actively working to seek out these movements and use the auction to support them, SHS can work to put some of these conversations on the radar of the Colgate campus and lead the community towards more robustly understanding our relationship to indigenous people whose land we occupy,” Underhill said. 

Leal reflected on the goals of the auction to bring people together and spread awareness. 

“The goal of the auction is to allow students, faculty and people affiliated with Colgate to demonstrate their interest with art and express it for a very noble cause,” Leal said. “Doing this fundraising for those groups of people that are within our area that many students may not know about is reflective of the social legacy this auction wants to leave here.”

Gómez explained that although the art auction’s first year was “wildly successful,” with nearly 100 art donations and raising over $2000, the group may look to reevaluate the format next year to make it more accessible and simple.

“I am not sure if we will do the format again, only because it was an incredible amount of work and months of planning on our parts,” Gómez said. “I don’t think that auctions are the most accessible forms of charity donation, so I think we need to go back to the drawing board and consider how else we can foster community involvement in our initiatives.”

Despite possible re-evaluation next year, Gómez expressed appreciation for what the auction represented and accomplished.  

“From a hand-carved ice cream scoop to beautiful paintings to stunning photos of Colgate, the auction demonstrated to our wide-reaching community just how fortunate Colgate is to have such talent on campus,” Gómez said. “What is really cool is that original artwork from our talented communities will find new homes on the walls of bidders and that a lot of money is being put to great causes.” 

Leal echoed this sentiment on the auction’s connection to the Senior Honor Society’s core values.

“The Senior Honor Society focuses a lot on community empowerment and tradition and harvesting efforts throughout its time to bring students together in a multifaceted way while also maintaining the principles of diversity, equity and inclusion in everything they do,” Leal said. “I think the auction is emblematic of that.”