In the fall of 2019, six students were temporarily suspended from CBS for nine months because of a Facebook party invitation, that the management at CBS thought was sexist. The story was published on CBS WIRE, but also reported widely in the Danish media.
The private invitation, created by the students, who were former intro guides, used what CBS referred to as sexist language and encouraged female students to put on their “lowest-cut sweaters and shortest skirts” and male students to “pour loads of alcohol into the girls you’re hoping to drag home with you later”.
This prompted CBS management to suspend the students from the university for nine months and remove their SU grants.
The students complained about this decision to the Danish Ministry of Higher Education and Science. They claimed that the invitation had nothing to do with their role as intro guides, because the event was hosted after the official intro period. Also they stressed that the invitation was not only intended for new students and they didn’t mention CBS anywhere in the text.
Now The Danish Parliamentary Ombudsman, Niels Fenger has made judgement in the case and sides with the students. The punishment was unjustified. In his view, CBS should have taken into account, that the invitation was for a private party and that the suspension had major consequences for the students, which have had no previous sanctions.
CBS Management still believes the invitation “far crossed the line of what is acceptable behavior for intro guides and also acceptable party culture at CBS,” says University Director Kirsten Winther Jørgensen.
“We have noted that the ombudsman understands that CBS found it necessary to act on the students’ party invitation. That being said, we will definitely take into account the ombudsman’s decision regarding the proportionality of the sanction. Also, we hope that CBS and the students won’t get into a similar situation again,” she adds.
Student organization supports students
This is not the first time the CBS management has been criticized for its handling of intro cases. In December 2020, it had to admit that it had removed the students’ study tuition without legal grounds and return the money.
The student organization CBS Students also expressed disappointment regarding the severity of the punishment when the case began. It deemed the punishment out of proportion, and described the CBS management as being ruled by principles of fear.
“The affected students have been treated like criminals and ignored, even though their cases were unsubstantiated. It’s just a very unusual way to treat intro guides and coordinators who put hours and hours on end in the intro program,” said Sarah Diemar on behalf of CBS Students in June 2020.
Now, the student organization is happy that a ruling in the case has finally been made and encourages the management to carefully consider the ombudsman’s judgement.
“We fully understand that CBS felt the intro guides’ behavior required a response. But we believe that CBS should carefully consider the ombudsman’s critique. The CBS management’s handling of the case had major consequences for the students. We hope that CBS will consider their response extra carefully if a similar situation should occur,” says Mikkel August Wallind, President of CBS Students.