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Insead suspends welcome week after students complain of humiliation



INSEAD business school

  • Insead, the world’s second best business school, has
    suspended its “welcome week” after complaints from
  • Two new students at the French university complained
    they were made to undertake “humiliating” initial rituals
    during the week, the FT reports.
  • Details of the incident have not been released, but it
    is subject to an investigation by France’s National
    Committee against Hazing. 

Insead, one of the most prestigious business schools in the
world, has suspended the “welcome week” for its MBA program
after two students complained they were made to undertake
“humiliating” initial rituals during the week.

The school, based in Fontainebleu, just outside of Paris,
took the decision to suspend the introductory week after the
students said they were “tricked” into the initiations, although
details of what these entailed have not yet been made

As first reported by the Financial Times,
the incident has
now been referred to the so-called Comité National Contre le
Bizutage, or National Committee against Hazing. 

According to the FT, the incident is believed to pose a
threat to the renewal of Insead’s academic accreditation, which
is soon up for renewal.

Insead, ranked second in the world for MBAs by both QS and
the FT, has a long tradition of unofficial initiations for
students, with the practice generally undertaken in an attempt to
deflate the egos of new starters, many of whom have begun
successful and lucrative careers in the business world, before
stepping back to embark on the MBA program.

Initiation rites reportedly include tricking students into
joining fake sports clubs which require their initiates to
undertake gruelling physical challenges, often involving
exercising until they are sick.

While the university is taking the complaints seriously,
the decision to suspend the welcome week has not gone down well
among many of the university’s alumni.
According to eFinancial Careers,
some alumni have started to
refer to the year’s new class as “‘Weicheier und
Heulsusen’ or ‘wimps’ (literally ‘soft eggs’) and

One alumnus quoted by eFinancial Careers said that

the only ones humiliated by the Welcome Week
were those who were too full of themselves.”

Alumni approached by the Financial Times had a similar
view. Reshma Sohoni, who graduated in 2003, told the paper:
“There are always one or two people who get upset about being
humiliated but I think it builds character. It is about not
taking yourself too seriously.”

The school has acknowledged the feelings of alumni, but
said that the wellbeing of students must be prioritised at all

In a letter to alumni, dean Ilian Mihov said that the
school needed to shut down welcome week in order to comply with
the investigation into the complaint.

“We understand that there is strong support for the welcome
week tradition in the alumni community,” Mihov wrote, according
to the FT’s report.

“However, student health and wellbeing are our top priority
and welcome week cannot continue if it moves students to file a
formal complaint.”

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