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The Rise of Political Activism at Business Schools

The political climate within the United States has been quite unstable and divisive, to put it mildly, in the past year. This mood is reaching business schools and changing the atmosphere in ways that some say is unprecedented. The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) recently highlighted the rise of student activism at top-ranked U.S.-based business schools following decisions and actions of the Trump administration. “At the undergraduate level, these kinds of demonstrations happen frequently,” Peter Johnson, dean of the Haas School of Business at the University of California, Berkeley, commented to the WSJ, “but I can’t remember a time when our graduate students have been as involved [in campus politics].” In addition to demonstrations on campus, open letters from students and professors of business schools have made the rounds in recent months—one by Harvard Business School students, in particular, condemned President Trump’s decision to appoint HBS alumnus Stephen Bannon as senior counselor and chief strategist.

At Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management, students have turned to fundraising to support the American Civil Liberties Union, which recently took a stand against President Trump by filing a lawsuit against his controversial immigration ban. The Kellogg-based coalition, MBAs Open Up, features students from more than ten other business schools and has raised nearly $5K so far. The recent rise in activism could be due to a new school of thought among MBA students, suggests Brent Chrite, dean of the University of Denver’s Daniels College of Business. “This is a generation of students that believes in the capacity to do well financially when you do good for society,” Chrite said in the WSJ article.




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