Harvard Business School is known for being the training ground for America's leading business executives. But behavior by some of its current roster of MBA students suggests that in some ways the school's culture is as dated as a pocket watch and may have led to the recent allegation that a female student was sexually assaulted.
Following the allegation, the business school has begun a "sobering process of self-reflection," The Harbus campus newspaper reports (via Poets & Quants). The purported assault appears to have involved the unwanted groping of the student's breasts by a male classmate off-campus.
The female student, who hasn't been identified, reportedly declined to press charges and asked administration officials not to undertake an investigation to identify her alleged assailant.
Despite that decision, it appears that the student's meeting with Harvard Business School administrators got off to a "rocky start," after officials expressed surprise at the allegations.
"When the student met with us and told us this information, I was very, very surprised, and I believe she found my surprise to be disingenuous," the newspaper quotes Frances Frei, chairwoman of required curriculum courses, as saying.
The student told officials that such behavior isn't unusual, noting that similar incidents at the school were reported in Inc. magazine 14 years ago.
"We know things of this nature have happened historically, but we didn't think it was happening with the students now," Frei said. "Her view was like, 'Really? This is going on all the time.' "
The sorts of things that "go on all the time," reportedly include crude "games" such as one known as "Kill, F---, or Marry."
Female Student Voted 'Second Best Rack'
At least one student told Poets & Quants that such game playing isn't unusual. Speaking on condition of anonymity, the MBA student told the publication, "My sense is that the game is played with some frequency, and that many students were surprised that it was cited as part of the 'problem' that might exist within the culture here."
Another alleged incident, earlier this year, led to a female student being informed that her classmates had voted her to have the "the second best rack" in the group.
In an effort to enlighten students to the inappropriateness of such behavior, the school last week held a mandatory lunch meeting for all 900 first-year students.
Student Association President Kunal Modi said the midday sessions were an important first step, but cautioned that there was much work still to do, the Harbus reports.
"Many of the issues that came out of the discussions have existed for decades and some will continue to persist even after we leave," he said. "The challenge for us as a class will be to ask ourselves what we can do to leave this campus an even more inclusive and respectful one than we entered."
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