Course XV or Section X

The first year of my MBA at MIT is over.

Excuse me while I stare at those words for a second.

The bittersweet end to what has been undoubtedly the best year of my life is upon me.  However nice it is to be done with finals, it is even harder to know that, in just one more year, all of my friends that have become my family will scatter into the C-suites of companies around the world, and I will no longer have the privilege of seeing them every day.  Of hearing of their insights and learning from their experiences.  Note to self: soak it all in next year.  This stuff isn’t forever.

This recent bout of nostalgia has gotten me thinking about the content for this last blog post.  What topic is worthy of summing up these last two semesters and all of the amazing things that had come along with it?  What case study on my first year at Sloan encompasses the greatness that this year gave me?

So I’m just going to vamp for a while about something that happened in the last couple weeks of school that is a microcosm of what makes Sloan so great.  I am hoping that if I just write, and don’t lay out any sort of structure or anything to this post, it will make the first year just sort of keep going without its conclusion.  I can hope, right?

I had no idea what Section X was before I got to Sloan.  Do you folks know what it is? If you don’t, here is some light reading on the subject by some not-so-light news sources:

http://www.economist.com/whichmba/class-001

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/09/10/education/harvard-business-students-see-class-as-divisive-an-issue-as-gender.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0

Apparently an elite, selective and very wealthy group of kids get together each year and fly around the world drinking champagne in jets or on yachts or whatever you do with tons of money.  They call this secret society Section X.  Honestly, I didn’t care about it.  I was so happy in Sloan, enveloped in its culture of inclusiveness, that I was totally content with drinking juice in the cafe instead of Moet on a G6.  If you want to be a part of something at Sloan, just ask.  No one is ever going to turn you away from something because you didn’t get an invite or you aren’t cool enough for the in-crowd.

About three weeks before the end of school, however, there was an email sent out to the whole student body from a clandestine email address announcing that there was going to be a secret society here at Sloan.  That the “chosen ones” were going to be “tapped” (whatever the hell that means), and their identity was going to stay anonymous until graduation, when they would wear special garb to show that they had been selected.  Or something like that.

Chatter of this spread like wildfire.  This sort of thing never happened at Sloan.  Who started it? Who was going to be in it?  WHAT WERE THEY GOING TO WEAR AT GRADUATION??!!!??!?!

But just as fast as this started, it was snuffed out.  Because this is the sort of thing that is not tolerated at Sloan.  It is not part of our Sloan Values.

The condemnation of this group was swift.  Some of the most involved and popular students, many of which had apparently been asked to sit on this group, stood up for what was right. Many students, including the class president, declined the invites to the group and, instead, began speaking out against exclusionary practices and under-the-table dealings.  There was a Facebook post written that soon had hundreds of likes and comments, reaffirming the importance of the inclusive culture that we have at Sloan, and how something like this is the antithesis of that culture.  The members of the Sloan student body with the absolute most social capital, clout, and wealth, declined to be part of this group, and used their clout to tamp out something that does not belong at Sloan.

Two weeks later, there was a skit at the Sloan Follies event poking fun at the fact that a secret society would never work at Sloan.  There is just no room for exclusivity here.

There were a lot of great things about this first year at Sloan.  Teachers, students, classes, travel.  The list goes on.  But the part that is emblazoned in my mind is the fact that I got to be part of this culture.  I was invited and accepted into this culture without question.  I didn’t have to be approved or tapped or whatever.  If you want to be part of something here, people will open their arms, groups will open their doors, and students will open their hearts.  All you have to do is ask.

Course XV does not have a Section X.  And we like it that way.

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