Residence Hall Association mixes up format for largest fundraiser

Media Credit: Jordan McDonald | Hatchet Photographer

Resident Hall Association President Ari Massefski, left, and Programming Director Ali Belinkie, right, plan to turn Martha's Marathon in to a raffle, rather than an auction. Previously, the event awarded prized housing assignments to the highest bidder, but the new approach will randomly select winners.

The Residence Hall Association is trying to help GW say goodbye to its rich-kid reputation.

For the 50th anniversary of Martha’s Marathon this month, students won’t have the chance to outbid each other by hundreds or thousands of dollars for the best rooms GW offers.

The RHA will raffle off five housing assignments to randomly selected winners and give another housing pick to the student who wins the most fake money through gambling games like blackjack and roulette at the Casino Royale-themed event. Winners will choose from any room in which they are eligible to live for the 2015-2016 academic year.

In previous years, Martha’s Marathon auctioned off desirable rooms, like a single in Guthridge Hall or a double in Amsterdam Hall, to students who offered to pay the most.

RHA President Ari Massefski said students would pay thousands of dollars to get a quad in Shenkman Hall or other prime rooms.

“That sort of money is prohibitive to people. That sort of money would be prohibitive to me,” he said.

The event will still include an auction, but now students will bid on items like a baseball signed by President Barack Obama, a guitar signed by Taylor Swift and sheet music signed by Beyoncé. All money raised from the raffle and auction will continue to go toward housing scholarships.

RHA Programming Director Ali Belinkie said the organization chose to make Martha’s Marathon a raffle this year because it would allow more students to get involved.

“We wanted to make it equal for all students so that everyone could participate in it,” she said.

To compensate for replacing the auction with a raffle, the RHA has hosted fundraisers at local eateries like Roti, Jetties and Sweetgreen over the past week to bring money into the RHA Housing Fund, which helps students earn scholarships to cover the cost of housing.

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