Occupy Wall Street Fuels New Round of MBA Bashing

by John A. Byrne on

Wharton students taunt protesters with chants of "Get A Job!" and a banner which reads "Get Into Our Bracket" (Photo from The Daily Pennsylvanian)

The invasion of The Wharton School’s Huntsman Hall last week by Occupy Wall Street protestors has fueled a new round of MBA bashing. The protest on Oct. 21 led House Majority Leader Eric Cantor to cancel his Wharton Leadership Lecture hours before it was to occur on Friday.

But some 100 protesters managed to march into Huntsman Hall—the epicenter of Wharton’s B-school campus–through an Au Bon Pain outlet. Their temporary occupation of the school’s largest building led to back-and-forth taunting between Wharton students and the protestors.

WHARTON STUDENTS SHOUT ‘GET A JOB!’ TO PROTESTERS

On video (see below), Wharton students can be heard jeering the protesters, shouting “Get A Job! Get A Job!” A small group of Wharton students, standing on the balcony above the protesters, unfurled a makeshift sign with the words: “Get Into Our Bracket!” The protesters countered, with loud boos and chants of “We are the 99 Percent! So are you! Join us.”

In the aftermath of the event, the conflict between the MBAs and the protestors has been picked up by a website called “ThinkProgress: The 99% Movement” under the headline, “Students At Elite Wharton School Mock 99 Percent Movement: ‘Get A Job! Get A Job!’ The site has a video of the shouting match.

“While the students who jeered the protesters certainly do not necessarily represent all Wharton students, it’s important to understand the context of the elite status they likely either come from or graduate into,” the writer of the article noted. “Wharton graduates much of the nation’s corporate elite, with the median starting salary for an MBA graduate being $145,000 — six times the poverty level for a family of four.

“The school’s Board of Overseers is staffed with with multiple Goldman Sachs executives and high-ranking employees of a wide variety of financial firms. Meanwhile, its Graduate Executive Board is staffed with senior employees of Bank of America, Blackstone Financial Management, and PMC Bank. Wharton’s endowment is $888 million, greater than that of many large public universities. Essentially, the students jeering the protesters represented the future financial elite.”

‘PEOPLE WITH MBA’S HAVE NO SOUL OR HUMANITY,’ CONTENDS ONE READER.

The story has touched off a highly contentious flurry of MBA bashing comments. “It’s why I tend to believe that people with MBA’s have no soul or humanity,” wrote Todd McMillin, who apparently is a student at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale. “It’s like they breed it out of them or have some evil magical ritual to suck their humanity away. Even at our college, the MBA crowd became a bunch of sociopaths…”

Adds another commenter, identified as Chic Scott: “It costs almost $100,000 a year to attend this school and one has to figure that already, to receive the bachelor’s degree at a four year university, a student’s family has already spent two maybe three times that amount depending on what school they attended. Who can afford, except for the very top income earners or those gifted students able to secure a limited number of scholarships, a half million-dollar education? And those who graduate from schools like this have a foot in the door at every company in the world because of the reputation of the school. I think the picture captures the current state of American society…a couple of members of the “elite” standing (literally) over the suffering majority with big smiles and taunts of “get a job”, and no understanding of the lives and struggles of the people they are taunting…and the gap widens.”

‘MANY OF THE WHARTON STUDENTS ARE WORKING VERY HARD,’ COUNTERS A WHARTON STUDENT.

Audinga Besusparyte, who identified herself as a Wharton student, tried to defend her fellow students at the school. “Many of the Wharton students are working very hard—16 hours a day,” she wrote. “I believe whoever does so will be able to make a living, too.”

Her defense only incited many others to post retorts. “A lot of people are working 16 hours a day and only barely making a living, with no big prize at the end,” complained Joshua Lackey. “The students at the school are privileged. I doubt without significant support form their parents, that they’d be able to attend such a university. I wish what you “believed” was actually true, but it isn’t.”

Surprisingly, some of the attacks were from readers who claimed they are Wharton alums. “Wharton students prove once again that they have no souls. I went there for four years so I witnessed it first hand,” wrote Heather Meads.

 

  • CmsDa

    Wow, the audacity of the Wharton pricks. What they don’t realize is the joke is on them, they are lemmings for the corporations, basically corporate puppets. So they make a great salary but at what cost? These poor fools have no idea.

    THE BLIND WILL LEAD THE BLIND

  • John

    I am a current Wharton MBA student and I really feel the need to clarify a few misunderstandings that have been laid out in this article (and in many other articles covering this story as well). As some may know, The Wharton School combines MBA students with undergraduate business students in the same building (Huntsman Hall). The students depicted in this story, the picture, and the infamous youtube videos are all moronic undergraduate 18-21 year olds who have not lived in “real world” yet, and have never had to face holding down a real job in this tough economy. They have no idea what it is like to face the risk of losing your job and livelihood, hence the lack of compassion to OWS’s cause and their overall idiotic actions. Obviously, chalking their taunts down to naiveté and childishness doesn’t make what they did any better, but I thought I would clarify to those angered by their actions that these were not Wharton MBA students. In fact, this has been a source of serious discussion amongst the graduate students, and none of us condone what these kids did. I hope everyone comes to learn of these facts, and stops misrepresenting Wharton MBAs in this light. Thanks.

  • Alois de Novo

    I have never been so impressed with Wharton. I’ll have to take one of my Wharton grad colleagues out to dinner tomorrow to express solidarity with him.

    WE ARE THE ONE PERCENT!

  • Echo

    To Alois and CmsDA,

    I personally disagree with your comments. To disclose, I’m a current MBA student working full time and studying part time (which seems like full to me). Let me break it down by responding to some of the quotes in the article:

    Quote: “Who can afford, except for the very top income earners or those gifted students able to secure a limited number of scholarships, a half million-dollar education? And those who graduate from schools like this have a foot in the door at every company in the world because of the reputation of the school.”

    Response: With the exception of those students who are trust fund babies or have parents who pay for their kid’s MBA education, the majority of MBA students make extraordinary sacrifices in the form of loans just to go to school. We aint talking about $100, or $1k or $10k loans–we talking about over $100K loans not including the opportunity costs of losing two years of income. And while a good handful of MBA’s graduate into roles that pay them a moronic amount of money (i.e private equity), there’s no guarantee that MBA’s will get jobs, much less the jobs they want. And not all go to consulting and finance roles. There are a good number who go the non-profit route and use their MBA training for social initiatives at the expense of a nice six figure salary. So factor all that in together, it’s a heavy cost for students to get an expensive education.

    Q: “The students at the school are privileged. I doubt without significant support from their parents”

    Response: Whoever said this is an idiot. As I mentioned before above, many students finance their education themselves through very expensive loans.

    To those MBA students who think it’s better to taunt the disenfranchised, shame on them as well. What both sides (i.e. students, MBA administrators, and the unemployed) need to do is use this as an opportunity to craft out workable solutions to merge business with this activistic mindset to help address the unemployment issue.

  • http://www.mbaunderground.blogspot.com Red Lobster Hopeful

    Those MBAs are right, and right to do this. Soon they will be showing those OWS bums who’s boss, as they all get a job with prestige at Red Lobster.

    Go Wharton! Go MBA! Come see why MBA is King at my url! You won’t believe how bright the modern MBA is!

  • Chris

    This is unfortunate because it shows the worst side of two groups I otherwise support.

    For OWS protesters to be attacking students who are working to improve their lives is horribly misguided. The aspects of OWS I support are making the system “fair” so everyone has a shot at success, prosecuting crimes committed in the financial sector, putting more barriers between corporations and politicians, etc. However, harping on MBA students comes off poorly and most OWS supporters I know certainly don’t believe that people shouldn’t work to improve their lives and become successful.

    As for the students, this just reinforces stereotypes about MBA students and makes them look ignorant and callous. If you are going to be a social or business leader you need to learn how to be the bigger person and respond to ugly situations with tactical, measured responses. Their remarks showed immaturity and a distinct lack of leadership. I am hoping John’s comments are correct and these are indeed naive undergraduates.

  • Alois de Novo

    I like to hope those Wharton MBAs were in there with the undergrads offering dog food to the protesters. I haven’t heard a different sentiment from any of my Wharton MBA friends today (I don’t know the moronic “social enterprise” crowd).

  • Mike

    Now its official….Wharton (of all MBA programs) has no soul and no character

  • SubNyc

    I am sadden to see the level of IQ/EQ of the some of the writers here. They claim to be graduate of a top b-school and yet they didn’t learn the basics. After all, it is this arrogance that has put us in this trouble. The otherday I was reading Businessweek article on Rajat Gupta–the writer concludes that it was Mr. Gupta’s arrogance that put him in that place ( I didn’t gain much in term of wealth in fact he lost…lost the trust and faith of his friends, supporters and well-wishers). It is not the degree, the school you went to or the companies you worked for that matters; at the end of day, it is your values, principles and ethics that make you. We lost that focus somwhere on the way. Fortunately some b-schools are realizing that..and Harvard for certain has started taking steps in that direction.

    PS: I am a graduate of a top 5 b-school.

  • Min

    Very interesting article. At the time of economic turmoil angriness of people towards such an ultra elite top-schools as Wharton becomes more obvious than ever. I consider myself egalitarian but I do not support such a kind of populism. Why? Because money matters not always. To be accepted into Wharton you have already to be somehow exceptional. Many of it’s students are very talented indeed. You can not buy talent even with millions.
    By the way, John mentioned in his article Audinga Besusparyte. She is lithuanian, very talented second year MBA student. Very exceptional girl, among top 10 percent. So Audinga really knows what she says. It means whartonites work 16 hrs per day indeed.

  • Karthik

    My wife is a MBA graduate from Ross School of Michigan. Her family is not rich, she worked hard and scored good GMAT score, got admitted to ROSS, got loan for $100,000, and after graduation she is working as a finance manager earning close to $100,000/year. Most of the MBA students I know came from a similiar background. They all have taken big loans and are working hard to pay them off. I think its unfair to bash every MBA student from the ivy schools.

  • http://www.mbaapply.com Alex Chu

    If what was mentioned in this article is indeed accurate, then I am ashamed as a Wharton alum.

    Whether one agrees or disagrees in whole or in part what these protesters are doing, it’s essential to take the high road. That is integrity and what is supposed to be part of the culture of the school (at least when I was there) – being respectful regardless of what you feel about an opposing view.

    I am confident that the actions of these few do not represent a lot of folks in the Wharton community.

    I would hope that whomever was involved in the jeering really reflect upon what they did, how they behaved, and how they embarrassed many members of the Wharton community (many of whom I am certain abhor how these kids behaved).

    By taunting and jeering, you lose any credibility on the situation, and in the process you drag others in the Wharton community down along with you.

    Alex Chu
    WG ’01

  • http://poetsandquants.com/members/mbaapply/ Alex Chu

    If what was mentioned in this article is indeed accurate, then I am ashamed as a Wharton alum.

    Whether one agrees or disagrees in whole or in part what these protesters are doing, it’s essential to take the high road. That is integrity and what is supposed to be part of the culture of the school (at least when I was there) – being respectful regardless of what you feel about an opposing view.

    I am confident that the actions of these few do not represent a lot of folks in the Wharton community.

    I would hope that whomever was involved in the jeering really reflect upon what they did, how they behaved, and how they embarrassed many members of the Wharton community (many of whom I am certain abhor how these kids behaved).

    By taunting and jeering, you lose any credibility on the situation, and in the process you drag others in the Wharton community down along with you.

    Alex Chu
    WG ’01

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