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Copenhagen Business School

Present yourself – in all your shapes, sizes, clothes and opinions

The old stereotypes still rule – or do they? With the new school year starting, we also need to start embracing the broader student body, especially when we think about what a CBS student is.

Students at CBS come in all shapes and sizes. We see all kinds of people making their way around campus, both in gender, ethnicity, age and sexuality.

Though as we leave the lecture halls, the library, and the canteen and confront ourselves with the outside world, we might come to realize that our student body isn’t as versatile as it seems to be believed. Because on the outside, our diversity might not reflect what we actually think.

I would like to believe that the stereotypes surrounding the various Danish universities are a thing of the past. For decades, the CBS student has been illustrated as a preppy business enthusiast whose main desire was economic gains and expensive accessories. They stood in sharp contrast to the free-spirited pseudo Marxists at Roskilde University, where currency is only measured in social profit. In between these two groups were the traditionalists at Copenhagen and Aarhus University, the number nerds at DTU and so on and so forth.

It would be incorrect to say that these types no longer make up the different universities because they do. You don’t have to walk too many steps before you encounter a business blue shirt or designer handbag at Solbjerg Plads, and you don’t have to take the train to Trekroner to discover that circle discussions and left wing politics are dominating the teaching methods at Roskilde University.

But there seems to be a change under way and these stereotypes no longer reflect the majority. I myself experienced this when I started at CBS last year.

Having done my Bachelor’s at Roskilde University, I feared that doing my Master’s at CBS would be a challenge, as I was going to be placed in a box that was very different from the one I was used to. I worried that the student I had become couldn’t assimilate into that of a CBS student and that my interests wouldn’t align with the other students on my program.

However, my prejudice was quickly put to shame.

What met me at CBS were the stereotypes, but it was all kinds of stereotypes. Different looks, interests, attitudes and political orientations. Materials that showed one side and personalities that showed another. There were suits and briefcases, but certainly also people who mentally and visually hadn’t come back from their backpacking trip abroad.

Off course, some of the programs have more of one kind than another, but all-around CBS there seems to be a broader consent that a certain style or opinion should no longer be associated with the school.

But how come we remain to believe in or refer to a school’s stereotypes – even when their breaking down is becoming clearer and clearer at the schools themselves? How come we haven’t managed to communicate and cement this change in stereotypes in a way that it won’t end up effecting students’ choice in where and what to study?

We are so busy with trying to portray our student body as diverse but perhaps there are more exterior aspects to this, which we are forgetting. Shouldn’t stereotypes be a thing of the past, if our aim is diversity?

This is ,of course, a task for students as well as staff. We need to start mending the presumptions and kill the prejudice by presenting the school as it really is. Through branding, communication, cases and student organizations, we can be better at showing the broader picture of who we really are. To ourselves and to the outside world.

So, to the new students, as well as the old: present yourself – in all your shapes, sizes, clothes and opinions. And help abolish the classic stereotypes once and for all.

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