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As Babson considers tightening credit policy, SGA censures “early graduation” press release

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On Wednesday, the Student Government Association passed a resolution criticizing a Babson press release that highlights options for graduating early. The resolution expresses the SGA’s opinion that the press release misleadingly portrays early graduation as a new program, even as Babson considers tightening advanced credit requirements, making it more difficult for some to graduate early.

The press release, entitled “Babson College Offers Accelerated Path To An Undergraduate Degree In As Little As Three Years,” describes ways in which students can graduate early by taking additional classes or transferring advanced high school credits. It also identifies the advantages of graduating in three or three-and-a-half years, including earlier workforce participation, entrepreneurship opportunities, and “[increased] return on investment for students.” In it, both President of the Association of Independent Colleges and Universities in Massachusetts Richard Doherty and Babson College Board Chair Joseph L. Winn are quoted describing these steps as a “new degree option,” and business school news website Poets & Quants released an article covering the press release entitled “Babson Launches Three-Year Degree Option.”

The SGA’s response, called “Statement on Early Graduation PR Piece,” claims that Babson’s press release falsely “[indicates] a change from the status quo” and that “the release of this information as an external PR piece rather than an internal announcement indicates lack of prioritization of current Babson students.” In response, it urges the school to “remove the piece” and “seek and consult student feedback on advanced credit and early graduation.” The SGA Constitution states that such resolutions represent “the official position of the Government.”

For some, the brunt of the issue lay in Babson’s concurrent efforts to change its advanced credit policy. “This announcement is meant to be perceived as, but does not represent, a change from current policy, nor does it constitute ‘news,’ especially so close to the incoming student deposit deadline,” former SGA Vice President of Communications Daniel Foltz said in a Facebook message. “Babson is currently considering restricting AP/IB credit acceptance, making it more difficult to graduate early.”

Currently, Babson allows students to apply advanced credits from most Advanced Placement (AP) and International Baccalaureate (IB) exams, among other sources. A policy passed by the Undergraduate Academic Policy Committee would establish a 16-credit cap on advanced credits, a cap of eight intermediate liberal arts credits, and prohibit advanced credits from applying to free electives.

To move forward, the policy must pass the Faculty Senate. If approved, the policy will come into effect for the Class of 2022. According to Dean of the Undergraduate School Ian Lapp, it would affect a “minimal number of students.”

Although it was formally adopted on Wednesday, the SGA resolution’s path to the public eye was rocky. Its passage and release tested new SGA leadership, which assumed power mere minutes before the vote. And, in some ways, it highlighted the kinks still being worked out in the resolution process itself, which, before this academic year, had not been used in at least two years.

After the initial vote, senators were split on the manner of release, with a plurality agreeing to post the resolution on social media and others expressing concern that this would harm relations with administration. In the end, according to meeting minutes, a second vote established that “the resolution would be emailed [to administration] and then posted the following day.”

However, SGA President Jae Shin vetoed the official social media post on Thursday, in a move that came as a surprise to some senators. The veto came after a morning meeting with President Kerry Healey, Dean Lapp, and Vice President of Strategic Initiatives and Chief of Staff Kelly Lynch, who, representing administration, pledged stronger relations with the SGA. In an email, Dean Lapp called the meeting “thoughtful, informative, and productive,” saying, “we all left the meeting better educated about the issues and committed to even stronger collaborations.”

Although it was not immediately released by SGA, the resolution became public on Wednesday afternoon when, after seeking confirmation from SGA leadership, Senator Michael Gorman posted it on Facebook with his personal account.

In Facebook messages, Gorman acknowledged the diversity of opinions within SGA and Babson’s own motivations. “We were not trying to attack Babson by calling them hypocrites,” Gorman said. “I am sure they have their reasons. But we as students felt it was wrong to advertise Babson in this way.”

The press release is still present on Babson’s website in its original form. A Faculty Senate vote on the changes to credit policy is scheduled for next Friday.

Wildlife on Campus

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The fact that wild animals live in and around the Babson College campus may come as a surprise to many urban-dwellers or international students who aren’t used to four seasons, trees, or forested areas. The Babson College campus is a great edge habitat for raccoons, squirrels, or other snack-hungry wild animals because it is the boundary of two different habitats: the wooded forest of Wellesley and the human development that makes up our school.

According to “Wildlife in the Suburbs” on the Wellesley government website, wild animals are coming “too close to people and begging for food”.  When people feed wild animals, the creatures lose their fear of human interaction and soon expect handouts from everyone they meet. While playing with these adorable animals, people need to be more careful with it in case they cause legal problems unintentionally. In fact, the town of Wellesley imposes a fine of up to $200 for feeding any wildlife.  

In the past, the town of Wellesley has had problems with encounters between household pets and wild animals.  Animals coming from their forested habitat into the edge habitat of suburbia take advantage of food, trash, or small household pets (yikes!) that have been left outside by accident.  Members of the Woodland dorm community, like myself, agree that there is no shortage of skunks and raccoons playing around near the dumpsters by the Woodland parking lot.  When walking past dumpsters (where they like to hang out), they generally run away when approached.

Here are some suggestions to avoid attracting a raccoon into your dorm at night: Secure trash in raccoon-proof containers, which are easily found around campus.  For the most part, the dumpsters have heavy lids that raccoons cannot open.  Given this, don’t leave the lid open.  Near the Woodland dorms of Babson College, behind Trim, and in many more locations, it could be helpful to put ammonia, bleach, or red pepper on the trash bag in the evening to deter animals at night.  Don’t leave snacks or leftovers on the picnic tables or on the barbecue grill.

Overall, this is a great campus filled with wildlife, but it can quickly become overrun by hungry critters if we’re not careful.  We’re lucky to share such a great space with our abundance of wildlife, but we need to be more careful in the way we are treating them.

Massachusetts debates new environmental bill

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In September, thousands of people gathered in New York City for Climate Week. With a renewed focus on climate change, politicians are introducing legislation like Massachusetts’ S.1747. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia.org.

The world is changing, but this isn’t anything new. Dating back to the 1950’s, citizens started raising concerns over the effects of soil destruction, deforestation, industrial waste, and emissions. This issue, which is described by some as the largest crisis humans have ever encountered, was put on the back burner during the 2008 financial crisis. Today, the issues of global warming and environmental destruction are returning to the forefront as a major topic in local, national and international politics.

Massachusetts has already established itself as a leader in the war against global warming, but a bill, “S.1747: An Act Combating Cimate Change,” put forth by State Senator Michael J. Barrett, could be the first of its kind in the USA. The bill would establish what is commonly referred to as a carbon tax, although what is truly a fee because the money does not enter the general revenue and is directly returned to taxpayers. The fee would be levied upon the wholesale price of fossil fuels, thereby increasing the price of heating and transportation for Massachusetts residents. However, residents would then receive a check from the state government from the incomes of the carbon fee. Under this plan, people who rely heavily on fossil fuels would lose money overall, and those with fewer emissions would come out ahead.

The Committee for a Green Economy, an environmentalist group, hired a bi-partisan economic consulting firm, Regional Economic Models Inc., to study the impacts of a carbon fee on the Massachusetts economy. The study concluded that a carbon fee would boost the state’s economic activity by as much as $8 billion by lowering income, sales, and corporate taxes.

While Barrett’s current plan returns revenue to citizens slightly differently, through a direct check instead of lowering taxes, the study does show strong support for a carbon fee. Another report sponsored by the Department of Energy Resources concluded that a “revenue neutral” carbon fee like Barrett’s would be an effective way of cutting carbon pollutants, lowering emissions by five to ten percent and helping Massachusetts achieve its goal of reducing emissions by 80% from 1990 levels by 2050. Barrett’s bill continues to gain support, with 40 senators or representatives, a fifth of the Legislature, co-signing the bill.

Currently, S.1747 is being debated by the Massachusetts Committee on Telecommunications, Utilities and Energy, and many locals are pushing for a favorable vote. A crowd of business and faith leaders, citizens, environmental groups, civic organizations and economists, including Tufts economist Frank Ackerman and MIT economist Chris Knittel, voiced support for Barrett’s bill on November 5.

Candidates’ support or opposition to the deal will be an important indicator for voters in 2016. The candidates are divided on this issue. Some candidates, such as Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, have made the environment and sustainability a key issue in their platform, and others, such as former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, have a history of support for environmental policies—but there are candidates that would oppose many extreme efforts to combat climate change.

The upcoming weeks have the potential to change environmental policies locally and globally, and as these policies change, so will business. If a carbon fee is enacted in Massachusetts, consumers and businesses will change their spending habits. If a truly influential commitment is set by 190 nations around the globe, then large corporations will have to commit to reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

With Massachusetts considering the nation’s first carbon tax in the state legislature and with the Paris Environmental Summit just around the corner, the decisions made in the next few months will impact business, and the world, for decades.

BIBA conference features Bill Ackman

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Left to right: Alex Beshansky ‘17, President, Katherine Will ‘18, Vice President, Eric Lee ‘16, Bill Ackman, President Kerry Healey, Drishti Chhabria ‘17, Hannah Kim ‘16, VP of Finance and Chris LoGrippo ‘16 pose for a photo at the BIBA Investment Banking Conference.

On September 18, the Babson Investment Banking Association (BIBA) held its annual Babson Investment Banking Conference. The conference, now in its third year, featured finance leaders Bill Ackman and Chris McMahon as keynote speakers.

Each year, the BIBA conference attracts alumni, parents and students from Babson and nearby colleges to the Sorenson Theater. In fact, this is the third consecutive year that it has been sold out. BIBA co-president Christopher LoGrippo attributes the success of the conference to its high-profile keynote speakers.

LoGrippo, along with co-president Eric Lee, were able to secure the speakers by meeting with President Healey, who used her connections at Harvard Business School to convince Ackman, founder and CEO of Pershing Square Capital Management, to come. According to LoGrippo, the biggest challenges coordinating the conference were bringing in the panelists and marketing the event to the greater Boston area.

The conference was intended to advance BIBA’s mission of increasing Babson’s prevalence in the finance and banking industries. “BIBA’s mission is to improve Babson’s name on Wall Street… to help the banks think of Babson when they recruit,” LoGrippo said.

Administration hosts forum for student housing concerns

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On April 15, administrators held a meeting to address concerns about the year’s housing process, which some students alleged penalized rising seniors.

Representatives from Student Life, Facilities, and Public Safety spoke to a room of fifteen students. Led by Student Affairs Administration Assistant Dean Kate Deeb, the meeting was described in a student-wide email from the Student Government Association as “a space to address those questions, concerns, and the rumors that are out there.”

Deeb began by clearing up some misconceptions. “77 percent of suites are occupied by seniors,” she said. Some students alleged that 65 percent were occupied by rising juniors. She also revealed the gender breakup of rooms in Mandell, Pietz, and Mcullogh residence halls, which stand at 45 percent female and 55 percent male. This roughly matches the gender breakup of the College as a whole, countering rumors that suites are overwhelmingly male. Deeb also guaranteed the availability of housing on campus: “All the students that have applied for housing we are able to house,” she said.

These answers proved unsatisfactory for rising seniors, who focused on the quality, not quantity, of housing. Some proposed a housing process based on intended graduation date, or a return to a system of averages, in which groups of students are placed based on their average lottery number.

At times, the conversation turned emotional. Students expressed frustration at perceived injustices within the selection process, especially abuses of high lottery numbers. Some asked administration to better address situations in which a senior reserves a suite for juniors, then promptly moves out.

Midway through the meeting, a Facebook event created to protest the housing process, “Petition for Senior Housing,” was cancelled. Still, student attendees raised the possibility of a petition to effect change: “It’s a school for students; we should have a say.”

SGA Vice President of Communications Daniel Foltz was present. “SGA is looking to provide a forum for students and administration to maximize the effectiveness of our housing system and assist in resolving student concerns,” he said. Administrators maintained the possibility of working with SGA to tweak the housing process for future years and welcomed further student input.

Faculty Senate Recommends Against Proposed Institute, Citing Concerns with Koch Foundation Support

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The Faculty Senate of Babson College, constituted in 2008 to represent faculty in communication with college administration, recently recommended against establishing an “Institute of Prosperity Studies,” rejecting up to $10 million in proposed funding. The Faculty Senate was especially concerned with the initial donation to the school, which came from Charles Koch Foundation, whose founder is a strong financial supporter of the Republican Party.  The Senate cited ethical concerns with accepting money from the Koch Foundation and were concerned with Babson’s name being associated with the Koch Foundation.

The Senate’s recommendation against the Institute of Prosperity Studies was approved as a response to a request by Provost Michael Johnson for input on the issue. The response reaffirmed “the academic freedom of professors to engage in whatever research projects they wish, and to pursue individual funding to support that research,” but in the end, recommended “that the college not move forward with the proposed Institute of Prosperity Studies.” The Senate was deeply concerned about establishing an “explicit institutional association” with the Charles Koch Foundation, which they implied was “linked to specific political and/or ideological causes.”

Babson welcomes new assistant class dean

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Photo courtesy of babsoncollege.edu

Babson students and staff welcome Assistant Dean Heather Miller as the newest addition to the staff at Academic Services. Dean Miller takes responsibility for students with last names A through B, who had been served on an interim basis by Dean Rob Major.

Miller previously served as Director of New Student Programs at Wentworth Institute of Technology. At Wentworth, Miller worked to develop their First Year Seminar, Academic Advising, Early Alert Programming, and New Student Orientation programs, according to an email announcing her hiring.

Miller graduated from Bridgewater State University with a Masters in Public Administration and received a Master’s Degree in Education from the University of Georgia.

She says she is excited about her new role at Babson, and hopes to have the opportunity to work individually with students.

“I came to Babson for many reasons, but primarily for the opportunity to work one-on-one with students. In my previous position, that was only a small part of my job, yet it was what I enjoyed the most. I love getting to know students and helping them create goals and a plan to be successful in their time as a student,” Miller said in an email.

Virtual Reality in BabsonCODE

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Step into the shoes of a college student in the 1970’s and early 1980’s. The newest “craze” are personal computers – big, bulky machines that only displayed command prompts and weighed a ton. They honestly looked stupid.  And the people who sat hunched over those tiny screens might have looked like idiots – or worse – nerds.

Fast forward a little less than a decade and the Apple 1 comes out; soon computers start to become mainstream. A few short years later and a bright student from Harvard noticed that these computers lacked meaningful software, and launches a startup called Microsoft.

I don’t need to paint the picture any further. The point isn’t that computers started out as stupid machines and then became ubiquitous.

Mighty Well, A Year Later

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Just last week Babson College announced its 2017 Babson Entrepreneurial Thought and Action (B.E.T.A) Challenge finalists, which included from the undergraduate school: Womentum (Prabha Dublish ‘18 and Derek Tu ‘18), Vinci (Eagle Wu ‘19) and DetraPel (David Zamarin ‘20, Jacob Heller ‘20, Ali Eldessouky and  Larry Ng ’20). With the recent success of these entrepreneurial finalists, we take a look back at where last year’s BETA finalists currently are, particularly “Mighty Well,” founded by Emily Levy ‘16.

Mighty Well is a growing line of medical accessories that put strength, confidence, and mobility back into the toolkit for those coping with an illness or health setback. These accessories range in products, but what the company excels most in is the PICCPerfect Line Protector, a sleek and fashionable sleeve-like cover to protect insertion sites on the arm from contaminants, and to normalize these insertion sites into everyday settings.

The story behind the founding of Mighty Well traces back to Levy’s sophomore year at Babson College when she was diagnosed with Chronic Neurological Lyme Disease, a disease in which symptoms of lyme disease continue to occur despite use of antibiotics. These symptoms include fatigue, joint/muscle aches, and cognitive dysfunction which requires a PICC line, a long and thin tube inserted into the vein to pump in antibiotics or other medications.

Babson Global faces renaming, restructuring

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Additional reporting and authorship by Morgan Roth.


 

Change is likely in Babson Global’s future. Two task forces, the College Integration Working Group and the Legal Financial Working Group, worked over the summer to provide restructuring recommendations. These include changing the initiative’s name, “limiting [Babson Global’s] mission to the fulfillment of two existing contracts,” “[Closing] down the E-Cities business line with [the] option to recoup Babson Global investment at a later date,” shifting the Global Consortium, E-Learning, and Goldman Sachs initiatives into the College, and “[putting] in place a new, formal vetting system within the College comprised of Academic and Administrative leaders to evaluate global opportunities going forward,” according to a September Faculty Senate Meeting minutes sheet.

Babson Global, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization that was started under previous president Leonard Schlesinger and has been active throughout President Healey’s term. Since 2013, Babson Global has taken on a diverse range of projects, including the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses initiative, the Entrepreneurship Ecosystem Project, E-Learning, Enterprise Cities, and the Global Consortium of Entrepreneurship Educators (GCEE).

Some projects, like the 10,000 Small Businesses initiative, were already established before Babson Global was created. This project, launched by Goldman Sachs in 2009, has helped many people start businesses, and there are talks of bringing it back to Babson College in order to get students involved in the project.

Others, such as the Competitiveness and Enterprise Cities Project, also known as the E-Cities Project or CECP, have been met with some controversy. The project’s website states that it exists to “analyze the constraints to economic growth in a particular country, and develop a comprehensive set of solutions to those constraints across the dimensions of property rights protection, open trade, and domestic competition.” In some countries, this includes building Babson-endorsed centers in countries like Indonesia and Saudi Arabia. For instance, King Abdullah Economic City, a sprawling Saudi Arabian development, will be home to the Babson Global Entrepreneurial Leadership Center.

Two task forces, the College Integration Working Group and the Legal Financial Working Group, worked over the summer to provide restructuring recommendations.

Similarly, the Global Consortium met pushback from faculty, especially regarding intellectual property rights. This project enables international schools to purchase access to Babson resources. Some faculty were concerned about whether Babson was licensing their intellectual property, such as curricula, without their permission or compensation.

Others, like the E-Learning project, have had trouble getting off the ground. As of October 2015, there are no current E-Learning projects. The most recent initiative posted on the Babson Global website is a 2013 licensing deal with online course platform NovoEd.