From Russia with love?

The University’s Russian Club held a dating auction fund-raiser Wednesday night at Coffman Union.

Guests bid on Russian and non-Russian students, both male and female, for a chance at possible romance or just a night of fun.

The club’s vice president, Eugene Kharam, said this was the group’s first major attempt at fund raising. It did not have a specific goal but hoped to bring in between $300 and $400.

“We will be happy with whatever we get,” Kharam said. “Right now our budget is zero. Plus, we get dates.”

The club was formed in 1999, and Kharam said meeting attendance has steadily increased since then. The club now has 160 members.

“A lot of (members) are actually American,” Kharam said. “Some are just taking language courses in Russian or Russian literature.”

The event drew laughs as students bid for the date of their dreams. In the dimly lit board room, bids started at $8 and rose by increments of $2. The highest bid of the evening was $50.

Some in the auction tried to entice bidders by dancing on a table to Ricky Martin or Christina Aguilera. One potential date danced and played his harmonica, drawing a $45 bid.

The individual participants decide where to spend the night out with their dates.

“I will probably take my date to a Russian restaurant, but whatever she wants,” Kharam said.

According to the club’s constitution, one of its main goals is to bring together a diverse group of students interested in Russian culture, or in learning more about it, and to provide information about Russian cultural activities in the area.

The auction, co-sponsored by the University’s department of Slavic languages and literatures, raised money for social events and activities, as well as recruitment.

Kharam said this was the first dating auction and the club hoped a fun event, such as the auction, would bring in more participants than the group’s past events. Kharam, club President Ben Frayman, former President Eugene Tsuprun and club member Marina Shukh came up with the idea.

Some club members bid on each other just to donate money, and one even bid over the phone.

“We plan to have fun. It’s not really about money,” Kharam said.