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“Disgraceful”, “Too strict”: Intro guides and administrators share concerns and opinions about the temporary suspension of 25 students

Every August, new students enrolled at CBS get the chance to join a two-week intro program. The picture is from intro 2017. (Photo: Anne M. Lykkegaard)

Some think CBS is overreacting. Others think the suspended students have been punished appropriately. Intro guides and administrators share their thoughts about the temporary suspension of 25 students; how they think it will affect intro; and ask how to make intro both a safe space and somewhere you can “be stupid”.

News |   15 Jan 2020

Anne M. Lykkegaard

Journalist

In the wake of the temporary suspension of 25 students and the ongoing investigation of another 44 students, a discussion has arisen.

What will happen to intro?

Right now, the Senior Management and CBS Students are revising the concept of intro, as well as the concept for cabin trips.

Every year, intro guides and intro administrators spend hours on end devising intro activities that are intended to get newly-enrolled CBS students off to a good start. Last year, 3,110 new students enrolled at CBS, and they were all invited to join a two-week intro course before semester start.

But where does the case of the suspended students leave the hundreds of intro guides and intro administrators who have not been suspended? How do they view the matter and its possible consequences for intro?

“I think the case of the, proportionally, few students who were suspended due to their failure to comply with the intro regulations and their poor behavior during the intro period puts to shame the considerable efforts the rest of the intro guides make to ensure the best experience for the newly-enrolled students,” says Leo Bondy, who was an intro guide for the new students of the BSc in Business Administration and Service Management program, and continues:

“It is disgraceful that their actions have discredited the intro period and everyone involved with it. It is only appropriate that they are punished accordingly.” 

Anna Kozsdi, intro guide for the new students of the BSc in Business, Asian Language and Culture program, also thinks the suspended students have made a mistake by breaking the rules, which she otherwise finds quite clear. However, she does not agree with the punishment.

“Although, I don’t know about all the cases, I’m not sure about the punishment. I find it quite extreme and too strict to suspend students for drinking. Instead, I would ban them from being intro guides and being involved with other such activities in the future,” she says.

Henrik Edlenborg Mortensen, who was an intro guide for the BSc in Business, Language and Culture program has a different approach to the matter. He thinks the case of the suspended students makes a good topic for discussion regarding what intro should look like in future.

“Something is definitely missing regarding how intro functions since we have to have this debate every year. It would be a loss to dissolve intro, but also a loss to continue the current practices. Is it possible to create space for the students who need to “be stupid” while at the same time providing a ”safe-space”? That is probably the dialogue which is necessary to have moving forward,” he says.

Are the rules crystal clear?

CBS WIRE has talked to several intro guides and intro administrators about the matter and its consequences. According to CBS, the 25 students have been suspended for sexist language usage and for alcohol consumption. So, are the rules clear enough?

“The rules are simple to follow, and it’s clear enough to me that as long as you act in the role of an intro guide, the rules apply. And we are role models for the new students,” says Claudia Pastrolin, intro administrator of the BSc in Business, Asian Language and Culture program.

As a foreigner, I know how hard it is to make friends, especially with the Danes. But intro is a good way of enabling people to befriend one another

Claudia Pastrolin

She explains that on their program, they conducted thorough interviews with the hired intro guides to make sure they understood the rules. Furthermore, the intro team decided that the guides could only help new students of the same sex if a student had been drinking too much or otherwise needed help.

“We did this to protect both the intro guides and the new students from situations that could be misunderstood in any way,” she says.

Anna Kozsdi confirms this and agrees that in her opinion the rules have been simple to follow.

However, CBS could make it even easier to ensure everyone sticks to the rules, argues Claudia Pastrolin.

“When we sign up as intro administrators and intro guides, we sign a contract in which we agree to have read, understood and accepted the rules for intro. I think it would make good sense and help the intro guides and administrators if all the new students signed a similar edition of the rules,” she says.

At least two of the intro guides must stay sober during all of the intro week activities. (Photo, intro week 2017: Anne M. Lykkegaard)
(Photo, intro week 2017: Anne M. Lykkegaard)
The intro week ends with a small trip somewhere in Denmark. The Trip often requires the students to dress up in a costume. (Photo, intro week 2017: Anne M. Lykkegaard)

Leo Bondy also finds the rules straightforward, but if they were any stricter, problems might occur.

“I believe the rules are quite fair and are structured in a way that emphasizes safety instead of control. I think CBS’ administration understands that if the rules were overly strict, students would be prone to disregarding the rules for their authoritarian nature and would, therefore, be inclined to oversee them,” he says and has an idea for improving intro.

Leo Bondy suggests that should CBS make an anonymous feedback inbox that is active throughout the intro period. If the new students experience “turbulence” during their intro period, they can reach out directly to the Study Board or the administration of their study program.

“The proposition arises from the desire to maintain the intro period as it is, but with a customized method of supervision from the Study Board or administration regarding the intro administrators and guides,” he says and continues:

“An instant feedback inbox could potentially improve the quality of the overall intro process and increase customized supervision within each study line during the intro period without missing the essence of the intro process, which involves the hut-trip and off-campus socializing activities.

Cabin trips enable people to make friends   

Putting together intro is a lot of work, according to the intro guides and administrators. Some say they spend about 10 to 15 hours a week, from up to six months before intro begins, and during the two-week intro, the job takes up close to every hour of the day. But it’s worth it, they say, and agree that intro is important in order to make the transition to university life easier – both socially and academically.

Participation in the intro is hugely important for the future dropout rate

Henrik Edlenborg Mortensen

When Anna Kozsdi began her studies at CBS, she missed out on her intro period, as she was preoccupied with house-hunting in Copenhagen, after moving from Hungary. When a position to become an intro guide for the study start 2019 freed up, she took the chance.

“Looking back, missing my own intro was a big mistake. It seemed as if everyone knew everyone, and I actually struggled for a while in the beginning. As an intro guide, you can really make a difference for the new students, and for me, I made so many new friends, both new students and students from the same semester,” she says.

And for the foreigners, Claudia Pastrolin finds that the intro, and especially the cabin trip, play a crucial role when it comes to making friends.

“As a foreigner, I know how hard it is to make friends, especially with the Danes. But intro is a good way of enabling people to befriend one another, and the cabin trips are very important for this. Intro wouldn’t be the same without them, and it’s hard for me to see how we can do them differently,” she says.

Anna Kozsdi adds:

“When you are in the cabin, you are kind of forced to make friends, and that’s when people really open up and hang out with more people than just the two they hung around with during the first couple of days. So, I wouldn’t change that.”

Intro reduces drop-out rates

The students argue that participating in intro influences subsequent drop-out rates, as it is during intro that the students make new friendships and get all the tips and tricks for how to cope with the academic workload, as well as settling in at CBS.

“Participation in the intro is hugely important for the future dropout rate, since there is clear statistical evidence that non-participation in the intro week results in a higher student drop-out rate. There is also the informal social context in which tutors pass on knowledge to the new students, help them socialize, and create clear expectations about what is expected of students at CBS,” says Henrik Edlenborg Mortensen.

Leo Bondy thinks that participation in intro familiarizes the students with one another, and relationships grow as the semesters pass.

“After the intro period, you have shared experiences with your new classmates and a sense of team spirit. This is important so people don’t feel isolated during their studies and have a helping hand from a friend to endure stressful academic situations, which potentially decreases the drop-out rate by enforcing a sense of solidarity and community,” he says.

So, what now? Wait until March, when the Senior Management and CBS Students will inform the study programs about the new concept for intro. Consequently, the intro guides and administrators cannot start working on intro until that has been settled. Some intro guides argue that the delay and the case of the suspended students will mean CBS will have a harder time recruiting intro guides and administrators for new students.

Leo Bondy doesn’t believe so.

“I firmly believe that the incident will not have grievous consequences concerning students finding the work of intro guides undesirable. In my case, I made the decision to be involved in the intro process during my own intro period, as did some of the students I tutored. A successful intro period highlights the perspective of university life and its benefits. It is therefore paramount that the intro process remains as it is, but with an added layer of transparency and quality assessment.”

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Comments

  1. Susanne Nielsen says:

    If CBS wants a change in the intro-culture, this should be achieved through transparency, respect and dialogue instead of punishment.
    What is the point of punishing students doing volunteering work?
    I really do not see the point.
    I think CBS has lost big time on this case.

  2. John Fisher says:

    CBS needs to make it clear that there are rules and there are consequences for breaking them, just like in society where we know there are laws and punishments. You wouldn’t see a policemen go and make a woman pretend to give him a blowjob just because he’s in a position of authority and if he did you would demand he is fired for such behavior. There is no excuse for this kind of stupidity, intro guides are in a position of authority and they are at university, they are adults and should act like it. I went on my intro tour in 2012 and to this day I am still shocked at the disgusting behavior displayed by our intro guides. If CBS lets people off for breaking clear rules then these people think that rule breaking is something acceptable, some of these people will go on to be investment bankers or consultants and might just think that the rules in these industries are just as flexible.

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