It has become pretty standard to hold charitable fundraisers in the form of auctions in order to effectively attract donors and raise money for various causes. However, Semra Sevi, MA candidate in the Department of Political Science, added a funky and competitive twist to her event “Pie A Prof,” a fundraiser organized with the help of Paul Kingston, director of U of T’s Centre for Critical Development Studies and others. Sevi auctioned off the rare opportunity to publicly pie well-known U of T professors, to support War Child Canada’s education project for Syrian child refugees in Jordan.
Last semester, I was asked to write a paper on the Syrian refugee crisis…for professor Michael Ignatieff, which I did, but I wanted to do something more than just right a paper, I wanted to walk the talk,” said Sevi in her opening speech at the event. The event, which was held on Tuesday, March 11, 2014 in Hart House’s Great Hall, featured prominent professors of different disciplines, such as Janice Stein, Clifford Orwin, Nelson Wiseman, Jeffrey Kopstein, Robert Austin, and Paul Gooch.
Each professor solicited donations over the course of several weeks — the professor whose name raised the most money was protected, while the others were pied. The goal set for each professor was $2,000, amounting to an anticipated total of $12,000.
Clifford Orwin, who teaches political science raised the most, bringing in $6,164.76 Paul Gooch, the president of Victoria College came in second raising $3,030, followed by Stein, Austin, Kopstein, then Wiseman. In total, the event raised $13, 300.76.
After it was suggested that the condemned should be allowed some control over their fates, the to-be-pied professors got to pick the person to pie them. Austin picked a student in his class, David Kitai, to do the honors and Kitai took his moment to ask if it was a bad time to request that extension for his paper. Unfortunately, president Gooch was not given the opportunity of picking his executioner; as he came in second, he was pied by Orwin, the fundraiser winner.
Overall, the event was successful in both turnout and outcome. “My hope in creating this event was that others would duplicate our efforts,” said Sevi. A similar project is already being organized. Another student, Daouii Abouchere, is auctioning off the opportunity to pie Michael Khan, a lecturer in accounting at Rotman.
Correction: Tuesday, March 18 2014: A previous version of this article listed incorrect numbers of the amounts raised by individual professors, as well as the total. The numbers posted are now accurate. It also said most professors chose their Head TAs to pie them, only Professor Kopstein chose his Head TA.
Correction: Friday, March 21 2014: A previous version of this article included inaccurate quotes from Semra Sevi.