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

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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.