FOAM stands for “Friends of Arjay Miller,” a former dean. It is the nickname given to alcohol-fueled outings by Stanford MBA students.
‘SUSPENDED SUSPENSION’ APPEALED TO REAL SUSPENSION
The male MBA candidate had argued during the Stanford investigation that the female candidate had made her allegations of rape and violence to get back at him for breaking up with her. The university’s coordinator for Title IX federal sex-discrimination complaints banned the man from enrolling for two years at Stanford if the woman were enrolled. That ruling was made moot when the female candidate appealed an initial community-standards office one-school-year “suspended suspension” and Stanford upped the male candidate’s punishment to an actual school-year suspension. The female student has not returned to the GSB. .
In an October 2013 incident, first-year GSB MBA student Zachary Katz – a 24-year-old prodigy who had landed at the school with a Summa Cum Laude undergraduate degree in biochemistry, history, and English literature from Harvard and a master’s in bioscience enterprise from Cambridge – allegedly drove the wrong way southbound down the Route 101 freeway in South San Francisco and smashed his Infiniti sedan into an SUV taxi, killing a 62-year-old man from Puerto Rico and severely injuring another taxi passenger and the cab driver. Katz, hospitalized after the crash, was charged with drunk driving and vehicular manslaughter. He has pleaded not guilty; a jury trial is set for January 14 next year. His LinkedIn profile says he expects to finish his MBA in 2018.
The wreck took place just a month after high-profile GSB professor Jeffrey Pfeffer in a BusinessWeek essay slammed a shallow, hedonistic, partying culture of “booze, cars and houses” at top business schools.
THE ‘FOAM’ FACTOR VS. GETTING HIGH ON KILIMANJARO
“Business school has become way more about the parties than about the course work. What happened to the classes, to academic performance, to learning something? If and when business schools become more like many of their professional school brethren—where status comes primarily from academic/professional accomplishment, not from who can hold the most liquor or put on the best show . . . the culture will change for the better—from booze, cars, and houses to ideas,” Pfeffer wrote, devoting nearly a quarter of the essay to the GSB FOAM trip tradition as the starting point for the corruption of student culture at the GSB. For the one-night-in-Vegas FOAM trips, students dress in ’70s attire.
Every Tuesday night, weekly FOAM drinking gatherings are held – “the reason I am exhausted and hungover in my Wednesday morning Leadership Lab session,” according to an MBA Class of 2011 blogger. Friday evenings are for free drinks and food at “Liquidity Preference Functions” hosted in the school’s Town Square by a different club each week.
Another unsanctioned GSB party trip – taking place before students even start the MBA program – has become a tradition in recent years: a jaunt to Colombia that tends to attract more than half the incoming class for sightseeing, beach partying, clubbing till dawn, and getting familiar with new peers. This year’s nine-day Colombia trip required eight months of planning and attracted some 260 pre-MBAs. Last year, after Bloomberg BusinessWeek ran a story on the event, FastCompany magazine co-founder Bill Taylor tweeted:
“How do you spell Stanford MBA? Y*U*C*K. I’m sorry, this is gross. No wonder there’s so little faith in business.”
CELEBRATING NEW CHAPTER
However, one of the organizers of this year’s Colombia trip calls it a major success. “Our objective was to bring as many people as possible together in a unique environment where we could celebrate this wonderful new chapter of our lives,” says Omid Scheybani, a new business development manager at Google for two years before starting his MBA this month.
Scheybani notes that he and about 20 classmates climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro in Tanzania together this summer. “The trip to Kili was all about challenging ourselves with one of the most difficult hikes in this world,” Scheybani says. “What has been most surprising – and that includes our trip to Colombia – is that the social interactions thus far have rather been the opposite of the ‘excessive partying culture.'”