INSEAD Axes Welcome Week After Complaints

For the first time in 35 years, INSEAD has cancelled its MBA welcome week after two students complained to authorities that they were “tricked into taking part in humiliating initiation ceremonies,” according to reporting by the Financial Times. Details of the hazing have not been released, but the Comité National Contre le Bizutage — the French National Committee Against Hazing — has launched an investigation just as the school’s academic accreditation is up for renewal.

Launched in 1983, INSEAD’s welcome week has always involved hazing — a common practice at U.S. universities — at the school’s Fontainebleau campus just outside of Paris; the original concept behind the hazing, FT reports, was to “puncture the inflated egos of new arrivals.” One common hazing tactic: a fake sports club in which students are threatened with expulsion if they don’t participate in extreme challenges and activities.

Two former students went on record with the FT in describing their hazing experiences. Reshma Sohoni, who graduated in 2003, said she was put through a 24-hour exercise challenge for a spot in the school’s adventure club only to find out that no such club existed. “There are always one or two people who get upset about being humiliated but I think it builds character,” Sohoni told the FT. “It is about not taking yourself too seriously.”

Another student, who remained anonymous, recalled trying out for a fake club and the club “captain” telling him to run “until you puke your guts up.” The anonymous student also said the experience was akin to character building. He even signed a petition put together by alumni when word got out that INSEAD was mulling over cancelling the event. “Sometimes there is too much political correctness,” he told the FT.


INSEAD has not responded to a request by Poets&Quants for comment. INSEAD Dean Ilian Mihov, however, sent an email to alumni acknowledging the cancellation of the school’s welcome week and the subsequent investigation. In the email he wrote that the school was “in active dialogue” with French authorities.

“We understand that there is strong support for the welcome week tradition in the alumni community,” Mihov wrote. “However, student health and well-being are our top priority and welcome week cannot continue if it moves students to file a formal complaint.”

INSEAD is, of course, one of the most sought-after MBA programs in the world. It’s also known for not only its hazing practices, but partying and a lax lifestyle. This year the school lost its first-place ranking in The Financial Times to Stanford’s Graduate School of Business after taking the spot in 2016 and 2017.


40 thoughts on “INSEAD Axes Welcome Week After Complaints”

  1. INSEAD Alum

    To be completely frank I am surprised this has not come up sooner. INSEAD’s hazing tradition is a well preserved beast perpetuated by alumni and faculty as well as the MBA students. Expect angry alumni and students to speak out as they will protect this tradition to the death of the school.

    • Also Alum

      Stockholm Syndrome is strong in Fonty.

      Singy people have lives.

  2. Georges Doriot

    This article is misleading. There is no humiliation involved in INSEAD’s welcome week. It’s the most amazing piece of mass coordination and fun I’ve ever experienced.

    • Another INSEAD Alum

      Funny name – do you really think Doriot would support Welcome Week? Maybe you left INSEAD with the wrong values and zero critical reasoning skills. Why aren’t you asking what could have possibly happened to these two students? Why didn’t they get the help they needed before they went to the Ministry? Would you like to go over your OB2 material? I can share.

      How dare you speak on behalf of so many of you fellow alumni and say there’s “no humiliation”.

      Fellow alumni – please check your Stockholm Syndrome. It’s not normal to shame the victims, question the veracity of their experiences, and keep defending a school that did nothing to help them. Your loyalty is to the friends you’ve made at INSEAD, not to the institution.

      • Georges Doriot

        So much anger in your post.
        Data shows that alumni support to the welcome week, to which participation is nothing but mandatory, is around 99%. Congratulations, thanks to INSEAD you made it to the 1% in yet another metric.The same 1% that won and finally got it axed.
        My feedback is as valuable as yours, I’m glad I was part of this experience and I feel sorry for the future intakes that will miss out on a brilliant learning experience that has nothing to do with the dull activities wrongly pictured in this article.

        • Ben

          I’m not angry, I’m disappointed that so many of my classmates including yourswld are institution worshipping sadists. 99%? Gaba would self immolate.

          Let’s hope you never have a kid who’s bullied in school.

  3. INSEAD18J

    Those who complained probably should have never been accepted in the first place. Nobody forces you to participate. If you don’t like what’s going on, stay aside and don’t poop in the party dammit

    • ohplease

      I know right? Letting in people with a flimsy grasp of the English language all united by 2 days of pretending to be better than they’ll ever be

  4. Zeki Junior


    I loved being shoved into a car in front of Japathai at midnight and taken for a ride all the way to Courances. Thank you for taking away my cellphone. Great times.

    Character level: BUILT

    Share your memorable INSEAD moments!

  5. Heinz

    I think everyone here should grow a pair. We are all fuc*** adults, no one forces you to do a thing.

    Although i did not take part of the WW, i still find it one of the key experiences of the MBA, and the moment where i knew people that until today, call friends.

    Moreover, and more importantly,a meaningful way of letting you discover things about yourself and about your values (and where you stand on that) that you would have no way of experiencing elsewhere.

    It doesn’t seem so, but lets you prepare to when you have to take super gray decisions, where the right and wrong are not clear.

    Taking decisions in the real life, will make some people pissed. That’s the nature of life.

    I am really sorry that there are people who do not understand that, probably casting mistakes also happen at the business school level.

    I think all this discussion obscures the role INSEAD has been having with developing leaders of the future, and specially, with women in business.

    I am very sad that the place where this article came (FT) calls this journalism. Sad sad days for “journalism”.. which is actually an offense to other journalists who strive for the truth every day.

    Should have studied a little more for your gmat buddy.

    • ohplease

      ah i see, when FT makes INSEAD #1, its the best paper in the world and we put it on badges, lanyards, stickers but when they report facts, they’re a disgrace to journalism? makes sense.

      should have studied a little more for the critical reasoning portion of the gmat, buddy.

      • Heinz

        I have no fault on your assumption that something written in the internet must be true and must be a fact.

        • ohplease

          Yup, nothing to do with the fact that I was physically there and watched a bunch of Js squirm in their seats while strange Ds kept asking them what their favourite sex position is. Are you the kinda guy who tells rape victims to man the f up? Dream big!

  6. Isthisapplesauce

    Does this mean we’re gonna have a solid two weeks of splash

    Wait I’m done muahahahaha good luck 19js and onwards

  7. growapair

    Stupid article, stupid comments. Welcome week has been one day out of the week for years because the pussification of INSEAD started several years ago. I’m sorry to whoever was roofied at Le Manoir but what the hell were you doing in a house known for housing guys, and passed out. What were you expecting, congratulations from the diploma committee for your great brains? INSEAD is better than US schools because we don’t believe in political correctness. Be aware of your surroundings. Don’t fall asleep in a house full of drunk horny guys. No uncertainty, lots of data = great judgment. Don’t be a bullshitter.

  8. Dontyouworrychild

    Insead doesn’t guarantee that being on its premises will make you smarter. Please bare that in mind when you decide to join. If you’ve been accustomed to making dumb decisions then the probability of that changing is very minimal. Just stay put and get an online MBA and ask your mom to give you a glass if milk in the morning to help you prep for the big bad world.

    • saynotothemilkindustry

      You’re so narrow-minded, it’s stupid. Most people are lactose intolerant and they don’t even know it. They just barf everywhere and think “such is life”. As with Welcome Week, drinking milk is a result of years of peer pressure.

      Maybe you need to stop drinking milk, child.

  9. MIKE

    It is interesting how INSEAD people and fans are dying to have a presence in the US! here in the P&Q, they are flooding this page wit comments and reviews to make their schools visible in america! pathetic behavior..

    • SB

      Pretty sure Insead was always visible and admires in the US. We’re doing quite well across the pond. Thanks for your concern.

  10. 18J

    I’m very upset Welcome Week has ended. Going back in a few weeks will be terrible. It was such a creative way to coach incoming students to become better human beings. I know how it can sometimes get out of hand when you’re the one doing the hoax because the incoming students can be so very infuriating.

    The guy who complained is exactly the kind of person for who Welcome Week was created. He thinks he is beyond jest and humor. This is a problem not just for MBA students but generally all human beings. A human being needs to be humble with a sense of humor in order to succeed in life. Recruiting companies will understand what a liability Atilio would be if they ever hire him. If he wanted to be bored he should have gotten a University of Phoenix MBA.

    The French government and INSEAD are run by a bunch of betas who are scared of everything.

  11. Look at This

    After reading these comments, I realized there will be no winners here… except maybe LBS.

  12. LC

    These comments are disgusting and degrading towards the school and other women. They could be false information or accusations – we should wait until the final investigation is closed and results are released before speculating, name-calling, degrading others, and spreading misleading information. A word of caution to all the readers out there – exercise your own judgement on what to believe because a lot of the people posting here are not real alumni but posing as such and have never experienced the school. The author should disable these vile comments until the actual truth is known.

    • Yallahabz

      Don’t be ridiculous, INSEAD has been through much worse. Salamanders adjust to fire. By the time the new intake comes all of this will be forgotten.

  13. Josh

    Thank God rankings aren’t based on rumors and prissy boy complaints. Insead is a great school and will continue to be recognized as such for the foreseeable future. FT has a very strong relationship with ilian and the gang. None of this has any bearing on how good of a business school Insead is. Hbs, gsb, and Wharton put their students through much worse.

    • WhatWouldHillionSay

      gross. the school shouldn’t be #1 because it has a great relationship with “ilian and the gang” but because it provides students with a great education and employment opportunities.

      ft surveys alumni before ranking. the vast, vast majority of alumni are very happy. they spent 40K on an MBA and made 200K the following year. that’s value.

  14. BB

    I was in Fontainebleau on an exchange for a short time and can I just say that I am not surprised? That INSEAD is such a top tanking school beggars belief. Most of the students there would never have made it to Wharton or Kellogg. CEIBS, probably. Insead students go above and beyond being obnoxious in their disdain for US schools and truly believe that their lack of political correctness is an asset. During the Holi party last year, I saw things that would have elicited a hashtag movement at home. They go out of their way to cause offense and then boast that they can because they’re not a us school and aren’t bound by political correctness. Such winners.

    While I’m amused by the schools inferiority complex vis a vis real business schools, I’d be interested in knowing why they let in so many mediocre, unsocialized people.

    • effwharton

      I helped organize the first ever Holi party last year, I’m pretty sure I know who you are, and you’re lying. Everything that happened at that party was consensual. If you don’t understand our culture you should have gone on another exchange.

  15. Bry

    As someone who has very legitimate beef to grind with INSEAD, I’ll be the first to say that Welcome Week is the least of the school’s problems. It’s harmless fun but when you get bankers drunk and try to humble them, this is what happens. Action, meet consequence.

    What should be canceled is INSEAD’S grossly ineffective leadership.
    They should be replaced with people whose primary goals for the school extend beyond making it to #1 on the Financial Times. This is what happens when you have a school whose sole purpose is to cater to the nostalgic whims of alumni. This is what happens when you have a school with a 40K strong network full of people who for the most part wouldn’t fit into any other business school.

    University of Arizona is to college what INSEAD is to grad school.

    • Nimrod

      You mean the school that changed its logo to a “1” and the color of the FT? Haha..

      • harald

        So embarrassing. Build school’s brand around one paper’s ranking. Self-destruct when the same paper refuses to take down a negative piece.

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