Reddit user accuses FLP of hazing, posts ‘harsh’ email in forum

Baruch College’s prestigious Financial Leadership Program is facing a “hazing” allegation from an anonymous Reddit user, who started a discussion on the public forum on what the user dubbed “harsh” behavior within the organization.

FLP is a highly competitive program within Baruch that recruits sophomores who are serious about securing a career on Wall Street.  The program provides intensive trainings and extensive interview preparation to help selected students secure competitive summer internships that lead to full-time employment opportunities.

The user — alpha_student18, whose account has been suspended as of press time — posted on March 13 a screenshot of an email sent from the organization’s teaching assistant, Zouhare Al-Baroudi. He was part of last year’s FLP cohort. The email, sent to FLP Program Manager Marietta Bottero and 22 FLP cohort members, had strongly worded content. Al-Baroudi addressed the cohort in the email and called them “lazy” and “ungrateful” and said they “flat out do not care.”

In the email, Al-Baroudi also called the cohort’s performance “shit” and compared this year’s group with the previous ones.

In an interview with The Ticker, Al-Baroudi said he sent out the email because the cohort members did not ask substantial questions during a panel with corporate and investment bank Natixis.

“Not a single person raised their hand, which indicates that [they] either don’t know what they’re talking about or don’t care, both of which was a bad reflection on FLP,” he said. “These professionals are tremendously busy. They offered to donate their time so the FLP students could know more
about them.”

Al-Baroudi also said that some FLP alumni reached out to him and Bottero about the lack of engagement and said they were “absolutely shocked and flat-out embarrassed.”

The two FLP leaders said they were also shocked when they heard about the allegation against the organization. Bottero told The Ticker that she “never observed anything where [the students] were aggressive.” When asked for her thoughts on the email sent by Al-Baroudi, Bottero said in an emailed statement, “As you must know FERPA rules prohibit me from commenting about a student.”

Three current FLP members requested anonymity due to a fear that they would face repercussions and damaging internship or career prospects if their names were used in this article. The Ticker has opted to use plural pronouns wherever necessary to uphold their anonymity.

In separate interviews, each of the three said that the finance world is cutthroat and the kind of behavior and language that Al-Baroudi exhibited is to be expected. Two of them also said that if somebody wants to make it on Wall Street, they have to tolerate this behavior and realize it is not to be taken personally.

One of the anonymous speakers said they found the email “a little harsh” but also justified it, saying that Baruch is on a lower tier of schools that does not attract as much prestige or attention as Ivy League or “target schools.”

“When you go to interviews and stuff like that, you kind of have to not give [recruiters] anything to point at. … If professionals come to Baruch, and you’re not even talking to them and you’re not asking them questions, it makes you look not interested,” they said.

The Reddit user posted a brief backstory to the screenshot of the email, in which the user claimed that they reached out to the Office of Student Life to report the organization for hazing and emotional distress.

The user said that Associate Director of Student Life Karl Koeppel “was trying to cover it up.”

“I spoke with the assistant director Karl Koeppel, who seemed very sympathetic to my cause. However, when I informed to him that it was a Baruch run org, and not a student run org … his mood immediately changed drastically. He was still listening but it looked like he was trying to cover it up,” the user wrote on the Reddit thread.

In an emailed statement to The Ticker, Koeppel said, “I don’t recall meeting with this student and am not involved with the planning and implementation of the Financial Leadership Program.”

Baruch’s Anti-Hazing Statement says that hazing may include “any action taken or situation created, intentionally, or unintentionally, whether on or off Baruch College premises to produce mental or physical discomfort, embarrassment, harassment, or ridicule.” This portion of the statement was also posted by another user on the thread.

When asked what he thought of the word “hazing” to describe the email he sent out, Al-Baroudi said, “Myself and the other members of the cohort are quite in shock as to the allegations. Aggressive is the nature of finance itself. To say that the program itself was aggressive is really quite a stretch. To specifically say hazing — hazing is a really strong word and it shouldn’t be used lightly, especially for a well-regarded, well-funded, well-thought-out program at Baruch that’s placed in some of the top firms imaginable on Wall Street.”

Al-Baroudi instead used the word “demanding” to describe the program.

March 24, 2018

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Yelena Dzhanova

4 COMMENTS ON THIS POST To “Reddit user accuses FLP of hazing, posts ‘harsh’ email in forum”

  1. He is right im a student and many kids want a wallstreet job handed to them. While kids who worked go get into ivy are getting offers baruch students are salty and refuse go network properly or even portray the school properly. Such an embarrassment some of the zicklin body is .

  2. This complaint is silly and contrary to the opinions about FLP that my peers and I hold. They treated us wonderfully in my cohort! Massage Fridays were my favorite, along with the catered Momofuku and sushi that we were occasionally privileged. My time in FLP was an incredibly intensive career preparation for my future in finance, in both fundamentals of corporate finance as well as corporate excess. Truly a world-class program. They even gave us MEXICAN Coke at events.

  3. Ok. I would just like to point out, in no other industry would this be considered acceptable. Let’s give the TA the benefit of the doubt, perhaps the group truly is incompetent and/or are ungrateful. I find it difficult to find a place for, “How dare you ruin and dilute name for myself.” Like lmao what? And the students complaining are special snowflakes? They didn’t network dude. No amount of networking will make you Martin Shkreli.

    But I digress, the fact that the defense for FLP is that “that’s just the way it is,” is so weak. Not only do they SPELL out hazing in their recent interview with the ticker, “Aggressive is the nature of finance itself.” The takeaway there is that, because we perceive finance as cut throat and aggressive, we are entitled to treat you that way. Which by definition is hazing. This is a college run organization, where the emphasis should be on education but truly no amount repeating “you’re a piece of shit,” to someone will ever prepare anyone for the barely-minimum-wage-once-you-divide-your-total-hours entry level job in finance. More ironically (and hilariously) finance majors think they understand learning and development which is a nuanced and in depth field of study in psychology or you know the liberal arts minor requirement they had to take. There is SO much evidence that suggests that this kind of approach is far more detrimental than good to one’s success because remember at the end of the day this is a Baruch funded organization which should do its best to prepare its cohort. And again even IF this group of students were truly bad, what is there to gain to my making them feel bad? FLP are the ones who chose them, it’s on them. Listen these students could be totally ungrateful which I doubt because they are taking away time from their own schedules to participate but there should be a line. And that line is “You are ungrateful, lazy, and flat out do not care.” Listen if you start to sound like Fire Lord Ozai, there is a problem.

    What do I know? I just work in finance, where none of this behavior is my reality. It wasn’t when I interned at a big bank and it isn’t now that I work in my full time job. I’m saddened by this behavior because it really just feels like an opportunity for others to perpetuate what is clearly a vicious cycle of abuse. And I’m not saying my experience is a reality for everyone but it could be, I think its healthier and more productive than the aforementioned at least. I am aware that there is a “wolf on wall street” mentality for many and it works for some. But honestly, if you’re good at what you do, you don’t need any of that.

  4. Took this from the Baruch anti-hazing agreement for Baruch College clubs and organizations

    “Hazing may also include any action taken or situation created, intentionally, or unintentionally, whether on or off Baruch College premises to produce mental or physical discomfort, embarrassment, harassment, or ridicule.”

    Don’t you think that this email causes mental discomfort, ridicule and embarrassment?

    Sounds to me, that the school was ALL GOOD looking into it if it was student run for hazing- but now it’s not hazing because its a school run org? It doesn’t matter if you think its mean or justified. It violated the schools own rules and they don’t want to care about it.

    The point is, if it was a student run org did this it would be hazing. And I heard they treat their students like shit on the regular basis. They are scared of their mentors and face constant embarrassment in front of their peers from the TA and the people who run it.

    It’s not about how “real life” is. The school has high standards of treatment but all of a sudden it doesn’t matter because it’s “school run” its hypocrical to the student run orgs they give such a hard time to.

    Yeah it doesn’t sound or seem like hazing, but it is on school standards

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