Op/Ed

Op/Ed

Life and social media, discordant

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Morgan Roth questions why she posted an Instagram photo in the midst of a family crisis. Photo courtesy of Morgan Roth.

Saturday morning, I posted a Instagram picture from the Mandarin Oriental in Miami. By then the tears had stopped, and I had begun mentally preparing for the journey ahead. My 14-year-old brother commented, curiously inquiring why I was in Miami. My heart hurt as I thought of how much he didn’t know. On Saturday afternoon, I hugged a cop whose partner had just committed suicide as I stood across from my dad’s hospital bed.

48 hours earlier: “Who am I speaking to?” An unfamiliar female voice answered the phone. I hesitated for a moment; it was far from the “Hello sunshine!” my father’s warm voice usually greets me with when I call. Regardless, I smiled, then responded that I was his daughter. The women, who turned out to be a nurse, nonchalantly answered, “We found your father unresponsive in his home this morning. Nurses tried to wake him up, but they couldn’t, so he’s on his way to the hospital. It’s not looking good. I have his phone, though I didn’t know who to call.” My mind went blank. It felt like a year passed before I finally thanked her. As if she had just realized the gravity of what she had told this man’s daughter, she added a shaky apology and hung up.

I wasn’t completely unprepared for a phone call like this, because my father’s health had been deteriorating for almost a year. But at this moment I was in the most helpless position. I put down the phone and stared blankly out of the 24th floor of my apartment in Shanghai. Days before all this happened, my Instagram featured a picture in Shanghai with the caption “I think I’ll stay here.” How ironic, because after that I was on the next flight out to Miami.

It is so easy to paint a pretty picture of a perfect life online—the hard part is getting through real times.

Why in the world did I Instagram while my dad’s life was in crisis? Was I being selfish, vain, ignorant or insensitive? As I think back and wonder why I did, I look at all the filtered moments of my life and realize I did it because it’s nice to see something that looks so pretty and perfect when you are living through what feels like the worst moments of your life.

It is rare to see a grown man in uniform crying in public. He stood silently weeping in the corner for this fallen friend. He recounted to me how it was completely unexpected, because his partner “was the happiest guy”; he had wife and a kid who he loved with all his heart. He told me that he just couldn’t wrap his mind around how this could happen. I thought silently to myself how it is always the ones who we least expect it to be. The ones who are in the most pain are usually the ones who are able to hide it the best.

Instagram and Snapchat make it so easy to make it look like life is perfect. There are filters, edits and timed views to give people a window into your life. You get to choose exactly what people see and you hold the power to control people’s perception of your life.

Every day, social media is flooded with endless images of the seemingly perfect lives of celebrities, models, socialites, and our own friends. They draw a range of emotions from those who view the images, from happiness, inspiration, and awe, to anger, jealously and sadness.

Whether it is freshman year of college and everyone looks like they’re having the time of their lives, or junior year and everyone is posting glamorous pictures from study abroad, it makes me wonder: is everyone’s life perfect? Of course not, but people aren’t going to post the moments of their lives where they are stressed out or in pain; they’re going to post the happiest, most exciting times.

I think I know what my friends are going through because I commented on their last Facebook post or liked their last Instagram picture. But it is not until I finally see them that I understand the whole story. It’s so easy to assume that you’re the only one going through a hard time and no one would understand if you told them. But chances are, no one knows you’re actually going through anything. Some problems are definitely bigger than others, but it doesn’t mean we are helpless. It is so easy to paint a pretty picture of a perfect life online—the hard part is getting through real times. So lean on your friends when you need to, because the real ones are always going to be there for you.

Letter to the Editor: On the diversity petition Op/Ed

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Dear Babson Free Press Editor,

I applaud your effort in taking the initiative to research and put forth factual data so that we as students are more informed about the various clubs and resources we have on campus. An article such as yours will receive backlash due to its sensitive subject matter however, it does what all great journalism pieces do: It forces people to have a difficult conversation from different points of view.

I cannot validate nor invalidate any individual’s experience at this school as every person’s experience is different. I can however, share my experience in the hopes that people realize that Babson is diverse in many aspects. I am not one to actively seek diverse courses or subjects but as my experience will convey, diversity permeates all throughout the college.

My second semester during my first year here I was required to take Rhetoric II in which an openly gay, white male professor taught us about the experiences of black lesbian females and the intersectional oppression they face from not one, but three groups. The professor was neither black nor female yet was still able to teach us and open our minds to the idea of oppression as “the sum of all parts” and apply those critical ideas to various topics including our own lives. The professor excelled at two things: exposing us to a group whose oppression often goes unnoticed and helping us realize that this oppression can be universally applied to every form of oppression. Once again, I did not know the topic of the class before I took it nor did I actively seek out this subject matter however I was exposed to it, and thereby allowed to make my own critical analysis.

This semester I took a course called South Asian History. Many people would expect a person from South Asia to teach this course. However, the person who taught me about the region where I am from was from Maine. Yes, a white man from Maine who has a PhD in History taught me about the South Asian region. He was able to deliver the material in a clear unbiased manner that taught us to think critically about the problems that plague the area. His race, ethnicity, socioeconomic background, gender or sexual orientation simply did not allow him to have any advantages or disadvantages when it came to the delivery of the subject matter.

Professors at this school are hired because they are learned academics who have devoted years of their lives studying the subjects that they teach. Discrediting them because of their race, gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation or perspectives is shamefully wrong. Professors who qualify for an open position based on merit should not be forgone in favor of professors who have a diverse social backgrounds. If hiring new faculty and staff to ‘be more diverse’ is the goal, what happens to the current faculty?

Furthermore, I would like to remind the first year students who are so vehemently in favor of this petition to realize that they have only experienced one semester at this college. There is simply not enough data for them to make conclusions about the entire institution without having experienced it fully. Their opinions are valued and offer a perspective into their experiences but it must be realized that most of them have only experienced 4 or 5 courses.

Lastly, I welcome informed discussion, debate and conversation about this topic but I will not stand for attacks on my own or other people’s character, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender, or socioeconomic background because they should not discredit my own opinions that I have expressed above. I further acknowledge that my experience may not be the same as other’s experiences but I am open to hearing about these. I would like to remind all students that diversity encompasses the dimensions of race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, socio-economic status, age, physical abilities, religious beliefs, political beliefs, or other ideologies.

Thank You,
Vikrant Ghate

A Binary Choice

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When Americans cast their vote for president on November 8th, they will be deciding between two and only two candidates, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.  While many voters, particularly millennials, are justifiably angry and frustrated with a political system that divides Americans in a way not seen since the Civil War, there is no room for a protest vote or for staying home — not this time.

If you are not convinced that a protest vote can have severe unintended consequences, we need look no further than 2000 when Al Gore lost Florida by 537 votes, throwing the election to George W. Bush, who started the Iraq War under false pretenses, ballooned the deficit, and drove our economy over a cliff.  The protest candidate that year was Ralph Nader, whose 97,488 Florida votes were directly responsible for the Bush victory.

We face a choice between two candidates with very different visions for America.  Trump proposes mass deportation, building a wall to stop Mexican “rapists,” and banning Muslims from entering our country.  He believes that climate change is a Chinese hoax and that massive tax cuts for the rich will somehow trickle down to the middle class without ballooning our deficit.  He admires Russian dictator, Vladimir Putin and encourages Russia to conduct Internet espionage on Trump’s political opponents.  

Trump’s birther movement has falsely challenged the legitimacy of our first black president.  He promotes violence at his rallies to the point of encouraging “Second Amendment people” to take matters into their own hands should he lose the election.  He would pull out of the Iran nuclear deal and start a war with Iran when they make “gestures” at our sailors.  He would walk away from the Paris climate agreement signed by over 100 countries and appoint conservative Supreme Court justices to overturn Roe vs. Wade while limiting a woman’s health care options.  

Alternatively, Hillary Clinton would carry forward the President Obama agenda that has focused on addressing climate change, expanded healthcare coverage, largely ended two wars, cut our deficit in half, and produced a record 78 consecutive months of job growth.  Clinton would also push forward an agenda of debt-free tuition for students whose families make under $125,000/year, a $15/hour minimum wage, gun safety initiatives, and increased taxes on the wealthy to pay for a needed infrastructure jobs program.  She has more experience than any previous presidential candidate having served as first lady of Arkansas, first lady of the United States, U.S. senator from New York, and secretary of state.

When we go to the polls on November 8th, we should heed the advice of Senator Bernie Sanders, whose extraordinary campaign brought millions of millennials into the election process.  

“I’m the longest-serving independent in the history of the United States Congress. I know more about third-party politics than anyone else in the Congress, okay? And if people want to run as third-party candidates, God bless them! Run for Congress. Run for governor. Run for state legislature. When we’re talking about president of the United States, in my own personal view, this is not time for a protest vote. This is time to elect Hillary Clinton.”

Sen. Sanders has it right.

Why the Donald Trump represents the modern day republican party

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The Republican Party today seems astonished by the fact that Donald J. Trump is their party’s nominee in this election. The Republican establishment acts as if Trump is an unfair hand they have been dealt with, without any of their own actions contributing to his success.

There is a general outrage that the party has chosen an individual who is expressing hateful and vile judgements about various groups of potential voters.  However, there should be no surprise that Republican voters applaud Trump’s ideas such as the “Great, Great Wall” and “a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States,” when the party has spent years telling immigrants they are not welcome here through “self-deportation”, the anti-Dream act, and anti-refugee rhetoric. The Republican Party has relied on fear mongering as a tactic for years by establishing suspicion of Latinos and Muslims long before Trump.

Republican lawmakers express shock when Republican voters cheer at Trump’s inappropriate derision and actions, even as they themselves deny our president common courtesy, for instance, by not standing during a state of the union address or by not giving a fair hearing to a supreme court nominee.

Republicans have no justification for their surprise at the rise of Trump considering that they have been laying the foundation over the last seven years for such an authoritarian and egotistical candidate. It all began when Mitch McConnell, Senate Majority Leader, said in an interview to the National Journal, “It is our top political priority over the next two years to deny President Obama a second term”. The Republican Party at that point decided to block all legislation and policy on all issues regardless of urgency or merit, with examples including: Veterans Affairs Funding Bill, Infrastructure Bill, Equal Pay for Women Bill, Student Loan Forgiveness, Bring Jobs Home Act etc… The greatest absurdity, however, is the fact that Republicans claim to back policies that support the former bills and acts, but since, it was President Obama who supported those policies, the Republican establishment couldn’t respect it.

In the seven years that President Obama has been in office, he has been filibustered over 500 times. For some context, Lyndon B. Johnson had two filibusters during the same time period. President Obama has also had 79 nominee blocks during his administration, versus 68 total for all of the other presidents combined.

That same disrespectful, uncompromising and dictatorial nature is exemplified in Donald Trump’s oratory, with examples such as, “Because you’ll be in jail” as he threatened his opponent with jail time or “You have to take out their families” referring to how to deal with terrorism through war crimes; clearly showing no respect for the judicial process.

The party is now reaping what they have sown. The Republican establishment prioritized the happiness of its right wing voter base rather than approaching the issues that mattered to the majority of Americans.

The Republican Party has not moved from that model. Even after condemning Trump’s policies, most Republican lawmakers have endorsed Donald Trump due to fear of their political futures. Until earlier this month, respected Republicans such as Paul Ryan and John McCain had backed Trump, even after Trump refused to denounce an endorsement from the leader of the Ku Klux Klan.

Republican leaders supported Donald Trump through comments that denigrate Latinos, Blacks, Muslims, disabled, and now women. Even now, the Republicans who are now abandoning Trump are doing so because his comments about sexual abuse affect their predominantly white right-wing voter base.

The Washington Post sums up the situation: “Trump is the GOP’s Frankenstein monster”. Conservative leaders through their words and actions demonstrated that government, politics, and political parties were institutions that did not deserve respect, and now it is their own nominee who is taking advantage of those perceptions.

Conservatives leaders have incited nothing but fear, hate, distrust, and resentment in their most avid supporters; therefore, it should be no surprise that they have nominated Donald Trump, a product of their own actions.

Links used for Evidence:

http://www.citylab.com/work/2015/12/2015-year-anti-immigration-trump/421893/

https://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/fact-checker/post/when-did-mcconnell-say-he-wanted-to-make-obama-a-one-term-president/2012/09/24/79fd5cd8-0696-11e2-afff-d6c7f20a83bf_blog.html

http://www.thefiscaltimes.com/2015/08/27/Top-20-Words-Voters-Use-Describe-Trump-Bush-and-Clinton

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/trump-is-the-gops-frankenstein-monster-now-hes-strong-enough-to-destroy-the-party/2016/02/25/3e443f28-dbc1-11e5-925f-1d10062cc82d_story.html?utm_term=.215d83f5c1f1

http://www.cnn.com/2016/09/29/politics/harry-reid-donald-trump-frankenstein-monster/

Resources for students affected by DACA

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Additional reporting by Yun Liang.

  • Students who wish to speak with a counselor in the Health & Wellness Office for support during normal business hours (Monday – Friday, 8:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.) can call 781-239-6200.
  • Outside of normal hours, students should contact Public Safety at 781-239-5555 and ask to be connected with the Student Affairs staff member on call.
  • Students are never required to disclose DACA or undocumented status when seeking out information.

Students Can Also Connect With:

  • Alana Anderson: Multicultural Programs/Glavin Office, 781-239-4565
  • Stephanie Kuchova: Academic Service/First Gen Programs, 781-239-4075
  • Katherine McMahon: Residence Education, 781-239-5295
  • Denicia Ratley: Faith & Service,  781-239-5969

Confidential Resources at Babson Include:

  • Counseling staff in the Health & Wellness Office
  • Chaplains in the Office of Faith & Service
  • Nurse practitioners in Health Services
  • Sexual Assault Prevention & Response Services
  • Health Promotion/Alcohol & Other Drug Services

Steer Away from Scams

You may receive an email and/or calls from someone claiming to be the FBI, ICE/DHS (or even the IRS with a request for money). In many cases, the emails and/or calls are threatening deportation or arrest. Sometimes the phone numbers and emails may match the official ones. If you hear anything like this, notify ISSS (International Student and Scholar Services) or Public Safety immediately. Advise that the individual receiving these messages not reply or take any steps until they speak with Public Safety.

An Open Babson Community Knows To

  1. Listen respectfully and suspend judgment. Keep personal or political opinions to yourself. This should not be a debate or discussion about a group of people or about policy; it is about that individual opening up to you and trusting you.
  2. Respect your friend’s confidentiality and boundaries. Allow them to share what they want, when they want, and how they want.
  3. Resist the “single story” thought process about “illegals.” This identity does not define the person; it is one part of their complex identity.
  4. Ask questions you may have, but understand that your friend may not have all the answers. Your friend may or may not feel comfortable answering, and you should respect those boundaries.
  5. Educate yourself about current policies and political rhetoric that are impacting undocumented persons and communities in the U.S.
  6. Do not allow your friend to become isolated. Let them know about campus resources and groups, community organizations, and more. If they wish to know other undocumented students, ISSS will reach out to other undocumented students with whom they have a relationship and who have provided their consent for this. Students who share their immigration status with ISSS are never forced to share their information with others.

Babson student life: Ranked #1 in bureaucracy

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The Babson website proudly compares starting a club at Babson to “starting a new venture,”- even alluding to the notion that participating in student life functions as entrepreneurial practice. However, every club’s events must be approved by SGA, every piece of marketing material must include an SGA logo, and every dollar raised during these events must be returned to SGA. In reality, students who start and run clubs look less like entrepreneurs and more like bureaucrats. It is quite ironic that a school ranked #1 in entrepreneurship forces students to create the collegiate equivalent of government agencies in order to have a registered organization on campus.

While the structure of the system might be slightly ironic, the plethora of issues that stem from it are no laughing matter. The current incentive structure creates an environment where club leaders can ask for a large amount of money as many times as they can. Since the money they are spending is not “their” money, there is no organic incentive against requesting funding for pizza for every meeting, even if such spending is relatively frivolous.

Since the government decides which events can go through, and at times choose to not fund or partially fund events, club leaders are incentivized to submit as many budgets as possible, in the hope that some get approved. This system leads to an enormous amount of proposals and creates an environment that wastes the time of both club leaders and SGA members. On top of that, the need to request funding for each event creates a massive amount of uncertainty regarding whether the event will be able to be financed per the specifications of the club.

A good example of the issues with the current system can be found with the experience of the Babson Political Association. Caleb Wursten, founder of the BPA, expressed to me how difficult it is to plan events with such “immense levels of uncertainty.” He says that club leaders are essentially forced to “shotgun budgets and hope some get approved.” As someone incredibly passionate about politics who founded the very first political association on campus, Wursten (‘19) is exactly the type of student that the system should encourage. Instead, he finds himself in an environment that constantly inhibits his club’s flexibility and holds his passion bureaucratically hostage to the extent that running the club at times creates more stress than enjoyment. It comes as no surprise then that the government weights put on the back of organization leaders lead to high club turnover and lack of club longevity.

Clubs on campus should operate to fulfill the needs of their members and students who are interested in that particular club. The college should finance those organizations, not because every little function they perform benefits the whole campus, but because they provide value to the students who are interested in that activity.

Isaiah M. Williams, Co-President of Babson TV, explained to me how his club has had “a very difficult time pitching a budget” because SGA doesn’t exactly see the projects and events of Babson TV translating well to “the greater student body.” So much for the “diversity” of clubs that Babson advertises on their clubs page. Williams (’19) goes on to explain how in his presentation to SGA, many members seemed disinterested, on their phones, and generally seemed to lack care about a subject that he and the many members of his club are passionate about. His description of the immense difficulty in navigating the SGA “red tape” contrasts almost comically with Babson’s claim on their club page that “Red tape is kept to a minimum.” People who love media and film should be the ones deciding what projects can be completed, but in the centralized economy that is Babson student life, the government is the one who decides whether a a club’s function adds value, and they do that by questioning whether it adds value to the whole community. In the real world, instead of attempting to add a little value to the entire population, companies fill specific niches and add a lot of value to specific segments of the population. If we start emulating real world venture creation, maybe our student life can finally live up to our #1 entrepreneurship ranking.

Aside from the minutiae and specifics of the funding process, the entire mindset behind student life is misguided. Marketing materials must have an SGA logo because the events are funded by SGA. Any money raised with the assistance of SGA funds must be returned immediately to SGA. The message is clear: it is SGA’s money and they are graciously giving it to you. If the SGA is truly a government for the people, then it is not their money at all. They should merely perform the job of fairly allocating it among the various student groups (and get paid the same $1000 they already get paid). As students and sources of tuition money, we, the broader student population of Babson, should have access to funds given for the purposes of student life without the restrictions (such as having an SGA logo on all flyers) levied on us by what is essentially a financial middleman.  

I propose that Babson migrate to a different system of financing student life in order to make it more vibrant and efficient. Rather than having organizations apply for funding for every little thing they do, they should instead apply for funding for every semester. They would submit a general outline of why they need the amount they are asking for and then SGA will allocate money to be spent by that organization for the semester. How large the funding an organization can receive should be based on past performance (how long they’ve been active, how much value they added last year, etc). Tying funds to past performance would also help reduce club turnover because clubs would be incentivized to be active and add value every year. A faculty advisor for each organization would have to approve each time funds are disbursed by a club in order to regulate spending.

Any perceived mismanagement of funds can be dealt with by the SGA in the form of asset freezes, lack of future funding, etc. This system would create an incentive structure that promotes conservation of funds because any dollar spent by an org would mean they couldn’t spend that dollar on an event later in the semester. Williams (’19) and Wursten (’19) both expressed extreme enthusiasm for the idea as they claimed it would allow their respective clubs to be more efficient and add more value to the student body by removing many of the incredibly restrictive regulations placed upon them by the SGA. This idea isn’t new either; many colleges use a similar system to fund their student life.

At Columbia University clubs put in funding requests to their student government at the end of the academic year and then receive a lump sum for the next year. When club leaders come back to campus in the fall they already know their resources for the year and can plan their club accordingly. Adopting a system like Columbia’s or some version of the one I proposed would make both clubs and the government more efficient.

The Babson website on their clubs page proclaims, “as in any entrepreneurial venture, at Babson anything is possible.” Well at the moment that should be modified to say that at Babson when the government supports your idea, anything is possible.

Letter to the Editor: On Paris and Beirut

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I’m deeply troubled by the carnage this past weekend in both Paris and Beirut. This sadness comes from a number of places—I have friends, both from Lebanon and from France, and I feel the intense sadness they feel for their own people. I am also troubled because this is another tragic moment where fanaticism and hateful, exclusionary ideology has manifested itself as a violent outbreak, leaving the global community crippled and asking, yet again, “Why?”

Aside from my grief, I feel something else; I feel confused. I am confused as to why a global outpour of sympathy has been directed almost exclusively towards France, leaving Lebanon, for the most part, in the dark. This is not to say I think there should be no sympathy shown for France—on the contrary, I wonder why people do not see the bombing and loss of innocent life in Lebanon, by the same group of fanatics, as troubling as the French incident. Monuments were lit up with France’s colors of red, white and blue, as well as people’s Facebook profile pictures, and I was sitting there wondering, what about the rest of the victims? Aren’t their lives equally precious and important? I did not see this sort of solidarity for the victims of the Lebanese bombings, or the Yemeni civilians crippled by airstrikes, or the Jordanian fighter pilot, and all the other journalists and aid workers who were brutally murdered at the hands of ISIS. These are just a few examples that hit close to home.

I just wonder, what if my home in Jordan, which is just a borderline away from Lebanon, were to be subjected to such terror? Would the global community stand in solidarity with my people, my family, my friends and my home? Or will it be seen as just another act of violence that can be expected in such a turbulent region?

My thoughts and best wishes go out to anyone who has been affected by this past weekend’s global tragedy; no life is less precious than any other.

Decompressing (for free) on Babson’s beautiful trails

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Photo courtesy of Andrew Plifka

As any Babson student knows, multitasking and being extremely efficient are necessities for survival. Drowning in work, excessive stress, and the feeling of being completely inadequate compared to one’s peers are not uncommon occurrences on this campus. And, While not the best culinary experience any of us has ever had, Trim’s infamous “all you care to eat” style can really start to become “all you care to gain” on our waistlines. However, when a student looks to have a relaxing experience or peel themselves away from their overflowing email inbox, they should not simply look for the typical activities and happenings on campus. They should do something that offers a multitude of benefits for just one investment of time.

With limited financial resources, many students can seem trapped here at Babson, which is simply an unpleasant way to feel about one’s college. However, many students do not know is that they are actually within a safe walking distance to walking and running trails and multiple grocery stores. Over the past few weeks, I explored ways to get off campus for a grand total of nothing.

Right here on campus, we have a running and walking trail that offers students an innovative and healthy way to check out some of New England’s iconic foliage and fall weather in the next few weeks. Past Coleman Hall, one can find the Sudbury Path. The Town of Wellesley has actually created an expansive network of safe and easily accessible trails. I was able to start near Coleman Hall, travel through parts of Olin College, and continue into the forest near the Wellesley Recycling center. The path was well marked, clean, and close to help. It offers students an opportunity to get exercise, fresh air, and decompress after a long day here at Babson. In addition to the Sudbury Path, I have also discovered a safe route, complete with sidewalks, to Whole Food Market in Wellesley. A twenty- to thirty-minute walk each way offers exercise, an opportunity to explore the community surrounding Babson, and the chance to grab a variety of food and necessities.

So go run, walk, or take a leisurely stroll in nature; it’s actually a very feasible option. We have great resources that are not well marked or talked about. Take advantage of the benefits that these free trails and routes have to offer so you don’t find yourself as stressed out, bloated from Trim Food, or bored in the future.

Map courtesy of the Town of Wellesley

“To my fellow first-years…”

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Dearest collegiate freshman,

Here you are, the class of 2018. You’ve studied, you’ve crammed, you’ve been the president of school clubs, directors of plays, producers of television shows, and editors-in-chief of newspapers. You’ve done so much already in such a short period of time.

And now, here you are. Standing before me, I see a class filled with potential, a class that exudes charisma and charms that go beyond the classroom. Your passions bleed beyond the small Babson community into the global world. I see you all going places – some will be CEOs of Fortune 500, while others will take their innovative ideas into the nonprofit sector. Of course, there will be a plethora of careers in between, all gearing up to do more.

But before we go off and explore the infinite possibilities that lie ahead, let us take the time to reflect on some of the most important, and oftentimes overlooked, parts of our college experience. First off, high school may have adequately prepared some for the vigor of college academia, but for many of you, this is a new experience. Now, I’m no expert on college, nor do I have any exceptionally amazing credentials. These thoughts are mere suggestions and tips that I’ve picked up during my short time at Babson, and they are subjected to change as I morph into the entrepreneurial leader I wish to become. Here are three things you should keep in mind as your journey at Babson continues.

One

This marks the beginning of your adult life. You’re free for the first time – free from daily familial obligations, free to be your own person, free to explore your own boundaries and take charge of your own future. Take advantage of that freedom and go explore the unknown. Get out of your comfort zone, and be proactive about your future. Join that club or organization you’ve been interested in, or better yet, join and run for that e-board position. Take the time out of your day to recognize your strengths. Build upon them.

Two

I know this is an abstract concept, but I encourage failure. Our FME professors tell us “failing is growing” and “failure only leads to success in the long run.” But let’s be honest here: from the student perspective, failing sucks. Failing means you did not accomplished what you set out to – or that’s the definition as we know it now.

Let’s re-define failing. Failure is not defeat. Failure is a mere road bump which leads to greater understanding of our strengths and weaknesses and builds stronger leaders. We’ve been trained as a society to think that failure is the ultimate form of defeat, when in actuality, failure may lead to success. The ambitions that we, as a class, have are stronger than the adversities and naysayers that try to hold us back. We are resilient, we are strong, and we are united.

Three

As we grow up and migrate away from the metaphorical “nest,” we often lose sight of the important things in life. We change as individuals, and sometimes, we stray from our core values and beliefs in hopes of discovering something better. I’m not here to tell you not to experiment and not to find yourself. What I will say is the grass is not always greener on the other side. Sometimes you must be adamant with your beliefs and stay true to your values.

College is a time of discovery and rediscovery; it’s a time of innovation. As cliché as it sounds, it truly is the time for you to be selfish and find yourself. Don’t waste this time. Take advantage of all the resources and activities offered, and live these next four years with no regrets. Put yourself out there and stay forever young in your thoughts and unafraid of change—set forth to make a difference, and do it.

Multi-level marketing: One student’s experience

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Multi-level marketing is a business model that often gets criticized as a get-rich-quick or pyramid scheme. Companies such as Vector Marketing, Vemma, Avon, Wake Up Now, and others utilize this structure in order to simplify training and increase the reach of their direct selling by tapping into the networks of their sales representatives. Personally, I only have experience with one company, Vector Marketing.

I began work at Vector the summer before my senior year of high school. I had been looking for a summer job and found a sales opportunity available off Craigslist that promised a base pay of at least minimum wage, and the possibility of making commission. I didn’t know anything about Vector; I just knew they were offering me an opportunity to make money, so I scheduled an interview. After being hired to join the team I began my career as a sales representative. The first step was a three-day training to educate new representatives on the product and the sales pitch used by the company. I was given a demonstration kit with a sample of the products Vector marketed, Cutco cutlery. This allowed me to perform in-home demonstrations, which are the key to the Vector sales pitch. The success of the direct sales method lies in the strength of the product itself. Cutco knives are exceptional quality and I can honestly say there was not a single home I visited which had better knives than the Cutco blades. The knives are priced to compete on the high end of the market, with some sets running into the thousands of dollars.

At first, you are tasked to visit friends and family to give a demo and refine your pitch, but an even bigger part of the marketing strategy is that after every demo you are expected to get the names of ten or more recommendations of people you can call to schedule another demo. By doing this, your list of potential customers grows exponentially. This is an effective system of selling. By getting college age students to tap into their family and friend network, Vector is breaking down the barrier to the customer right off the bat. People are far more likely to trust a friend of a friend than a salesperson at Macy’s. The potential customers do not even have to be in the market for cutlery because the sales reps will get paid whether or not they make a sale.

We have to remember that customers have a choice to buy or not to buy and that people have a choice to go into sales or not.”

Now that I have described a little more about Vector, I will talk about why they can sometimes get flack. One major factor is that some offices force new representatives to buy their demonstration kit. People feel that this is just a quick way for Vector to make a buck, without any regard for the success of the sales rep. Luckily, in many offices Vector has begun to offer you free kits for your entire tenure as a sales rep. The kit is a necessary part of the job and by making one small sale a person can offset the cost of the kit.

Another common criticism is that profits trickle up the ladder in a pyramid scheme-like flow. While it is true that office, district, and regional managers get a percentage of the sales in their area, it is all part of the motivation to strive for success across the board. Sales reps benefit from commissions when they do well, and managers benefit from a percentage when they have trained a sales force to do well. This is part of the allure of Vector—there is no limit to your potential to earn or advance. Vector is a great example of a “get what you give” arrangement. For this reason, a lot of people end up making very little money. Vector is not like a typical retail position where you are essentially guaranteed pay whether or not you excel at your tasks. Some people come into Vector expecting a big paycheck, but don’t put in the effort or the hours in order to learn the system and get in front of enough people to make a sale. Sales is a tough job, even for those who are good at it. It can be a long time between sales and nothing is guaranteed. This is not the right job for everyone.

Babson Professor and Chair of the Marketing Division Victoria Crittenden is on the Academic Advisory board of Vector. Her first experience with the company came when she was putting together a case on Cutco, Vectors manufacturing and product lines. She met with the startup team to review their efforts to expand internationally and toured the manufacturing facility in Olean, New York. She was able to get a grant from the Direct Selling Association to write a case on Cutco. She joined the Academic Advisory Board in 2000.

“We have to remember that customers have a choice to buy or not buy and that people have a choice to go into sales or not. Setting that aspect of selling aside, working in sales always involves a salesperson who is attempting to sell something. When the salespeople are doing their jobs well, everyone in the organization thrives. That’s not a pyramid scheme or a scam—as long as the legitimate practices are in place to make sure all are compensated legally and that customers are receiving the quality products they thought they were purchasing,” Professor Crittenden said.

While I personally believe that working in a structured environment like Vector may not allow an entrepreneur to thrive, Professor Crittenden made a good point that no matter what business you are in, you are always selling something. I can definitely support her view that Vector allows its reps and managers to hone skills that are applicable to other business situations, but also in daily life. Being a sales rep teaches you skills in sales, marketing, organization, and communication. You learn to have an interaction with a customer in order to make a sale based on their needs. Vector is a rarity in that it allows people the chance to dive into the sales and management experience.

Vector may not be a long-term fit for some, but after spending 8 months as a sales rep and assistant manager, I believe that Vector has something to offer everyone, and can be an ideal platform to thrive. Professor voiced to me what she thought were the greatest strengths of Vector, and I completely agree. She mentions that the system “enables a young person to expand his/her people skillset in a nurturing environment.” A young person can be proud of the product and the company itself. Cutco is a premium product, no question. Possibly most important is the “investment that the company makes in creating and delivering sales training for students.” Vector is not going to be perfect for everyone, but it is a system that puts the power in the hands of the sales representatives. If you commit to the training and listen to your manager, you will be able to sell. Not everyone is going to have a six-figure sales campaign, but the life skills that I learned at Vector are more valuable than the money I made.