Columbia Versus Stern, An Unlikely Love Story


With apologies to Shakespeare, the MBA students at Columbia Business School have just released what is perhaps the most ambitious follies video ever by a business school. Rome and Jules is a 12-minute-plus story of romance between two young star-crossed lovers, an uptown MBA and his downtown counterpart, who meet accidentally at a gala MBA dance.

The natural rivalry between Columbia Business School and New York University’s Stern School of Business plays out in a more modern, business school version of the infamous feud between the Montagues and Capulets. The setting is not Verona. Of course, it is New York. And the story ultimately ends, just as Romeo and Juliet does, with a death–this time courtesy of the food served in the Columbia Business School’s Uris Deli (even Poets&Quants‘ merits a quick mention!)

It’s just one of a series of hilarious videos that bring to glorious life the school’s annual spring CBS Follies. Time and time again, we’ve said that Columbia cannot be outdone when it comes to staging some of the wittiest and entertaining MBA follies. Maybe it’s the New York location, or the fact that many in media and entertainment tend to gravitate to the school. This year’s 2018 program is one of the best ever.

If love isn’t your thing, you might enjoy a more pragmatic take on MBA recruitment. In a parody of One Direction’s mega hit What Makes You Beautiful, CBS students convey a bit of of optimistic frivolity with That Makes You Recruitable. Even if you end up disliking the bit, the One Direction track moves it along nicely in just a fraction of the time as Romi and Jules: a mere three minutes and 25 seconds.

Of course, at all MBA follies, send-ups of deans are commonplace. This year, Columbia MBAs rag on Dean Glenn Hubbard who has been trying to get the school a new home for many years, raising more than $500 million in the process. The new business school campus, currently under construction in Manhattanville, isn’t expected to open until 2022. In a mashup of two songs, Eminem’s The Real Slim Shady and Drake’s God’s Plan. students playfully scold their dean, singing “Can’t build Manhattanville, yeah but he’s so smart.” Hubbard replies: “I don’t want to die, until I fix this. Yes, I see the blueprints are gibberish.” And they address the perennial conversation about rankings, with the thought that “the ranking systems are fixed, doing all I can to turn a 9 to a six.”

CBSers trot out the Sync classic, Gonna Be Me, to address the difficulty of B-school hookups and their awkward, ephemeral nature in Bangin’ In May. Warning: Some could find the content in this video offensive, particularly if they lack a sense of humor.

Perhaps the most resonant skit for this year’s round of dinged applicants is SAW. The acronym stands for Student Admissions at Wharton, and it’s a takedown of the application process to get into the Philadelphia MBA program, where, as an admissions official notes, “3,000 little yuppie assholes like yourself” are interviewed and whoever survives get admitted. In the episode, ten applicants are imprisoned in Columbia’s Uris Hall, and, in the words of one survivor, “You put us through excruciating trials, testing our morality, our resolve, and, mind you, killed some people in the process, and you also murdered an entire kennel of puppies! But all part of an admissions process?”

“Uh huh,” comes the response from an admissions officier. “Awesome,” says the surviving candidate. “Welcome to Wharton!”

For the entire series of this year’s CBS Follies’ videos, check out the school’s YouTube homepage.

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