Burgh Buck auction ends freshman orientation week with a bang

Brentaro Yamane | Multimedia Editor | Freshman Noah Madden (left) and Sani McNeely (right) celebrate having the highest bid and winning a new TV and sound bar in the Union Ballroom.

Emily Ambery | Layout Editor

Duquesne’s freshman orientation week wrapped on Sunday, Aug. 20, with the annual Burgh Buck auction event punctuated by rapid last-minute negotiations and underdog individual wins.

Panic filled the Union Ballroom air as the prizes came to the stage and bidding wars ensued.

Currency for the event was accumulated throughout orientation week, as the freshmen received “Burgh Bucks” awarded by team leaders for participating in activities, establishing friendships and maintaining high energy.

This year’s auction featured big-ticket items such as a Nintendo Switch, a 32-inch TV and sound bar, a PS5 and an iPad basket.

Some smaller basket prizes included Pittsburgh sports tickets, restaurant gift cards, and upcoming concert tickets, donated by academic schools, public safety and the Office of Residence Life donated.

Amandalynne Davis, director of orientation, shared that Burgh Buck chairs tried to include staple Pittsburgh items such as Terrible Towels or Milkshake Factory merchandise when planning the auction.

“We are student-run, so we know what students like to see and what they want to see,” she said.

As the auction took place, impromptu groups began to form. Students ran around the Union Ballroom, attempting to hedge their bets and secure enough capital to stay in the game and get their item.

The event was moderated by Burgh Buck Chair Ryan Graves and Entertainment Chair Jordan Baney, who attempted to keep the rousing crowd calm as bidders’ heart rates rose during last-minute deliberations.

The TV sold for $750,000 Burgh Bucks, and a group of over 25 freshmen won the PS5, donated by PepsiCo Inc., for $1.6 million.

The PS5 divided the room into two large groups that scrambled to get the highest bid. Attempting to jumpstart the bidding, one group placed $1 million on a starting bid of $200,000.

While Lance Catlos, a team leader, found the big groups rewarding because they encourage friendships, team leader Jess Ward expressed concern about the big group’s winnings. She fears future custody battles over the shared item.

The group’s next challenge is figuring out how to split up the PS5’s time. According to the winner, freshman Tyler Asti, the group might do weekly tradeoffs.
Despite being outnumbered, single individuals and smaller groups were able to walk away with the sponsored baskets or spend their Burgh Bucks in the store during orientation week.

Two-person group, Abby Zook and Caitlin Ortiz-Luis, came out victorious with a Duquesne Merch basket for $203,000 despite thinking they didn’t stand a chance against the larger groups.

Celebrations of clapping, high fives, jumping, yelling and hugs erupted in the room as each item was sold.

CJ Pitcher, a freshman, said he got more than $200,000 Burgh Bucks alone by befriending many team leaders.

“At one point, I had such a good friendship with some of them, I was able to put my hand out, smile, and get bucks without asking,” Pitcher said.

Pitcher, who partnered with his friend, a common way to pool together a competitive bid, competed against both small groups and large groups with 10 or more first-year students.

Students had to join forces during the auction as the prices kept rising. Pitcher ultimately joined a larger group to bid on his preferred item.

The group that stole the show and won the 32-inch Smart TV called themselves “Steve-O’s Dynasty” to honor the group’s elected president, freshman Steven Forgotch. The group, together, accumulated most of the Burgh Bucks in St. Ann’s East.

Although groups typically take big ticket items, Skyler Wrubleski, assistant director of orientation, said it was her first time seeing multiple floors of a building come together in the auction.

To intimidate the competition, “Steve-O’s Dynasty” was dedicated to their bit and wore formal attire to the auction. Members stood surrounding their president, mimicking security.

The group said they were having fun but ultimately wanted to give the communal space of St. Ann’s a technological upgrade.

Freshman Dylan Renne dubbed the communal space “the war room” of the conglomerate, which collected $786,000 Burgh Bucks in total.

Smaller groups and team leaders noted they respected the large groups’ dedication. Freshman Paul Horne said he was excited to watch them “Duke it out.”

“The auction is almost the hard conclusion of orientation week, so seeing all those people is definitely heartwarming because we know they were out there getting excited for the program and coming in to celebrate that,” Wrubleski said. “It was the best showing we could’ve asked for.”