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Take Section I!

Dear Deans W. Carl Kester and Kim Clark,
I wanted to take this opportunity to salute you for giving the student body a living example of strong leadership in tough times. My understanding is that you and the faculty have agreed to cut back the number of sections in the MBA class-a tough call, but the right one.
Now, you face an equally critical choice: Which section to eliminate?
After seeing you make one tough choice already this year, the 83 members of Section K 2002 (“OK”) realized it was time to do our part. At an emergency meeting last week, we unanimously passed Special Order #1, which solves the problem by calling for the immediate removal of Section I.

We know this finding may surprise some in the Financial Reporting and Control Unit, who favored using the “Last In, First Out” method to decide which section to eliminate, but OK has performed a much more rigorous analysis of the situation-one which leaves little doubt that there’s no “I” in HBS.

There are multiple advantages to eliminating Section I from the roster of sections. While all of said reasons will pertain to Section I 2002 (“OI”), it is logical to assume that “the acorn does not fall far from the tree,” allowing for the reasonable conclusion that it is an indicator of future activity and a statistically relevant data set.

As this was the breeding group of the often-uttered but misunderstood “triple bypass” last year, the only way to ensure that such an episode never happens again is to go to the root cause of the matter. OI’s almost single-minded focus on athletics is another main driver behind the decision to advocate their candidacy. While their performance on many fields of competition is unparalleled, few would argue that such domination is good for the larger intramural community as a whole. After all, is it really that different than the arguments leveled against winning teams like the New York Yankees or the Chicago Bulls of the 1990’s? I think not.

In addition to constructing barriers to competition that would make John D. Rockefeller proud, OI’s “section sponsored” athletic program has spill-over effects in the classroom. Frankly, many OI members are competing on many different teams with multiple commitments, and given the fixed number of hours in the day, something has to give. The rest of EC class does not benefit from the normal 2-3 hours of case preparation that we have grown to expect from each other. Let’s be clear, though. No one is accusing them of anything-each individual is a victim of the self-reinforcing dynamics that occur in groups as outlined in numerous LEAD cases. Each of us would act exactly the same in their shoes, which is why we implore you as Deans of this fine institution to end the madness of the particular section.

You’ll both be grateful to know that OK has taken preliminary steps to make this recommendation a reality. We have acquired a website (www.sectionk2002.org) to facilitate post-HBS section communication. However, as soon as we heard about the Administration’s plan, we also acquired www.sectionI.org to make sure that, upon graduation, this group would not be able to wreak the same havoc on the marketplace that they have done here. Additionally, plans are in place to roll up all Section I websites until 2010 as soon as you make the appropriate decision-just let us know.

Now, if I have been unable to convince you of the merits of eliminating Section I vs. Section K, let me make one final plea-how about picking a non-January section? After all, we’ve already suffered a “death in the family” so to speak with the decision to end the January program this year. Why kick us when we’re down? Why not throw the accountants a bone and adopt a “First-In, First-Out” policy … and eliminate Section A? It would mix things up a little, satisfy the need to cut costs, and let Section B have its day in the sun, too. Sounds like a win-win to me.
In any event, I, along with the other members of this and future generations of Section K, appreciate your consideration. We know you’ll do the right thing.

Very Truly Yours,

Louis P. DiLorenzo, Jr.
President, OK

April 8, 2002
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