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Friday from the Frontlines: #MBAsOpenUp at Goizueta

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In the wake of an extraordinarily contentious American presidential election with a result that stunned many both within the United States and around the world, much remains uncertain. This much, though, is clear: The election of Donald Trump to serve as its 45th president has revealed the United States as a deeply divided society and underscored the vital importance of dialogue to reach a point of understanding and a path toward a future that supports and protects the rights of all the country’s citizens.

As this week’s Fridays from the Frontline, we are featuring a blog post from Goizueta School of Business MBA student Claire Cooper about events last month on campus focused on issues of race and a commitment to “discussing the hard stuff.” Today and in the weeks and months ahead, the pledge by Goizueta students and their peers at many business schools around the country to open dialogue and work toward understanding one another seems more important than ever. Our thanks to Cooper for granting permission for her post to be republished for the Clear Admit audience.

The following post has been republished in its entirety from its original source, “Life at Goizueta,” the Emory MBA student blog.

#MBAsOpenUp at Goizueta

by Claire Cooper, MBA ’17

What makes Goizueta unique? This is the kind of business school where students don’t shy away from discussing the hard stuff. You’ll find ongoing conversations not only about accounting, finance, entrepreneurship, but also justice, race, society. Certainly, #MBAsOpenUp at Goizueta.

In mid-October, the Black MBA Association at Goizueta organized a series of events in solidarity with other top MBA programs across the country participating in #MBAsOpenUp, a campus response to the Black Lives Matter movement. The kick-off event headlined by Dean Erica James, where she spoke personally about her experiences with race both professionally and in terms of her personal life, family, community, and neighborhood.

That Thursday, students, faculty, and staff wore black clothing to stand together against racial inequality and police violence. We banded together during KEGS, our weekly end-of-week celebration, to take a school-wide photograph in hopes of disseminating the message of our support more widely. It was moving to see how seriously people took this event and how many people were deeply proud to share this image with their personal circles online:


Students and staff signed banners reading “Black Lives Matter to Goizueta”which remain prominently displayed, and students hosted a voter registration drive to promote civil engagement. Students were encouraged to reflect on and respond to quotes from prominent black historical leaders.

What I think is most special about these public acts is that they created an environment that spurred more meaningful and productive intimate conversations among students. It created the space to talk about the role race plays in our interpersonal relationships, school, community, and national political sphere. I feel that because of the courage and efforts of my classmates at Goizueta, I will leave here as a better ally.

GBS students encourage support of BLM movement and open dialogue

This summer I read The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness, and in hopes of engaging with people on this topic, I invited classmates to read it with me. Last month we met in our first informal social-issues book club. It felt frightening at first, asking people to give up their already pressed-time to talk about non-school-related issues, but the honesty, vulnerability, diversity of thought and empathy with which my classmates approached issues of race and privilege was really remarkable.

The opportunities and privileges offered by attending a great business school – a stellar education, opportunities for positions of higher power, relative confidence you will earn enough to live comfortably – come with responsibilities to our society and others outside of the workplace and school environment. I see Goizueta students acknowledging and living out this duty often.

Yes, we are a business school, but above that, we are a place of learning. Goizueta students are proud of helping to ensure that this is an environment where we don’t live in a bubble, but instead #OpenUp and face the world’s problems boldly and with an inclusive and solution-oriented mindset.

*Pictured above, Dean Erica James with Goizueta students