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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.

Admissions tighten with centennial class

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As Babson’s centennial class settles in, admissions statistics are on the rise. Applicants to the Class of 2019 faced the most selective admissions process in the school’s 96-year history.

This cycle, applications jumped 21 percent, from 6,199 in 2014 to 7,515 in 2015. The average SAT score of enrolled students rose 24 points, to 1933. The school awarded $8.9 million in grants and scholarships. And, with 54 percent women, the Class of 2019 is Babson’s first ever majority female class.

Of course, acceptance rate—perhaps the most-watched statistic—dropped, from 28 percent to 26 percent. According to U.S. News & World Report, this places Babson among the 100 most selective schools in the nation. Acceptance rates nationwide have been falling in recent years, thanks to increased international competition, growth in the college-aged population, and applicants’ tendency to apply to more schools.

Infographic by Lydia Steson

“There was a huge jump in international applications this year,” Courtney Minden, Dean of Undergraduate Admissions, said. “We were drawing more from places like Africa or Southeast Asia.”

Minden also attributes the rise in applications to recent publicity. “There’s a good vibe about Babson all over the world,” Minden said.

Yield rate, the percentage of admitted students who matriculate, has also been trending downwards. This is due in part to Babson’s unique specialization, but also because students now admitted are more academically competitive than ever. They may have their choice among top-tier schools, whereas students ten years ago were likely to choose among more regional schools.

The Office of Undergraduate Admission is tasked with maintaining the school’s standards despite the rise in application volume. The question on every applicant’s mind: what do they look for?

“I think a lot about the conversations that are going to happen at Babson…namely, the conversations that happen in the classroom, that happen in Trim, and that happen in the residence halls,” Minden said. “We’re looking for a diversity of backgrounds.”

Minden says she is “cautiously optimistic” that current trends will continue. Still, she cautions against rampant expectations. “Amongst the students who are appropriate for Babson, we could be the one and only [choice], which by and large we are. But there’s a ceiling there.”

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.”

Students initiate Alpha Kappa Psi colony

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Photo courtesy of Elaine Zhang

Another business fraternity aims to join the Babson community. A group of students, primarily freshmen and sophomores, are in the process of establishing a Babson branch of international professional fraternity Alpha Kappa Psi, also known as AKPsi.

The group first required approval from the Heritage Center, the organization’s headquarters, and from Babson itself. It is currently recognized as a “colony;” that is, a fledgling chapter that must prove it has the membership and capability to be formally installed. Once this occurs, likely in the spring, the chapter may pitch to the Student Government Association to be recognized as an official Babson organization.

“It’s been a long process,” AKPsi President Rada Ilieva (’18) said. “It’s very different than a regular org.”

AKPsi is the oldest and largest business fraternity in the world. Started at New York University in 1904, it has since inducted more than 250,000 students. Previous membership includes Presidents Ronald Regan and Richard Nixon, U.S. senators, and business leaders in every industry.

“The main focus of Alpha Kappa Psi is to provide leadership development, personal and professional training and the fundamental ingredient higher education misses—experience,” the organization’s website claims.

Babson’s colony has expanded rapidly, attracting about 80 colonists in a few months. “We grew really quickly,” Ilieva said. “We’re trying to maintain that brotherhood and have those close relationships, which is why we started in the first place.”

Ilieva says she looks forward to seeing the chapter come into its own. “I’m most excited about seeing things develop and people actually being able to use it for networks and fun.”

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.

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.

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.

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.

Class of 2020 Student Senators

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In the end of September, five students were elected as newest leaders in Babson Student Government Association. They were Yoni Bachar, Shiraz Khan Ghauri, Leo Liu, Nori Horvitz, and Kelly Song. SGA are divided into five sections: Academic, Clubs & Org, Campus Improvement, Ways & Means, and Student Life. Senators will need to take the responsibility under their divisions. They frequently hold meetings, talk about issues on campus and endeavor to solve them. This week, I had an interview with one of the new senators Leo Liu, and let us together take a close look at SGA.

I: Why do you want to be a student senator?

Leo: I think this is the best way to be involved in Babson. Being a Babson student, I always feel obligated to contribute to our school. I also worked in the student government back in high school, so I believe with my ability and experience I can bring more positive impact on campus. In terms of personal reasons, I always see myself as a leader, and being a student senator will bring me self-improvement and let me become a better one.

I: What do you do in SGA?

Leo: I am under the division “Ways& Means”. For example, if school organizations and clubs want to apply for funds to hold events, they need to ask our permission. We also take care of budget, distributing money to clubs as funds.  

I: How does SGA and senators work?

Leo: We have weekly meetings. On Wednesday, all senators must gather together and have a meeting for two hours. We will make a report, talk about issues, and discuss about solutions. As for each section, we also have a meeting every week. Being senator make me very busy, but I think it is totally worth it.

I: What is your relationship with other senators?

Leo: We are very close. We vote to pass policies when we have disagreements, which we always do. We often have internal debates regarding to the issues and solutions, but all of us are so willing to contribute to the school and make it better.

I: Do you get to many authorities a lot?

Leo: Yes, we do. We have the chance to talk to President Healey, Dean Lapp and discuss with them about the school. It is a cool experience and I enjoy it very much.

Five senators for the class of 2020 have been elected. They are all responsible, contributing, and always willing to help. Together with other senators, they will try their best to lead Babson into a better school.

PC: Annie Gao
PC: Annie Gao

Gene Baur talks food system disruption

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Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

On September 30, Food Sol invited Gene Baur, President and Co-founder of Farm Sanctuary, to speak about the abuses of industrialized factory farming and the errors in America’s current food system.

Farm Sanctuary, founded in 1986, was America’s first shelter for rescued factory farm animals. Their work centers on exposing the cruelties of industrialized factory farming on farm animals. On Wednesday, Baur talked in depth about the “mutilation, confinement, and deprivation of animals of their ability to live as active, social beings they are.” On one slide, he showed a graphic image of a live sheep amidst a stockyard’s decomposing dead pile. Another displayed an image of thousands of male chickens dumped and left to die in a large trash bin behind a major hatchery.

25 years after Farm Sanctuary’s founding, Baur has travelled extensively across the country to educate people about the horrors of industrialized factory farming and address this issue by “speaking truth to people with power” though legislation. However, he says that although people have become substantially more concerned about where their food comes from and genuinely want to make better choices, factory farms continue to shield truth under the guise of humane labels. Often, factories misleadingly plaster the words “cage-free,” “grass-fed,” or “free-range” in their products, but deny people the transparency they need to make healthier, more humane choices.

Baur mentioned key grassroots movements that continue to disrupt and change the current food system for the better. He spoke about Hampton Creek eggless mayonnaise, the increasing number of farmers markets, initiatives to replace lawns with vegetation, and many others successes, but reiterated his belief that nothing beats the power of citizens. Baur encouraged the audience to think about the adage “you are what you eat,” and start questioning whether the current food system aligns with their values.