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Section Love

I’m all for making new friends. But I wasn’t too sure how the whole section thing would work out. Before coming to HBS, I kept hearing how my section-mates would be “my best friends for life.” As someone who holds her best friends to pretty high standards, I was dubious. Who would these people be? Would I even like them? Would I be required to attend all the section parties? What if I was the only one who didn’t make friends in my section?

The worst was when I saw the video that the old Section B produced for our benefit during the first few weeks of class. In the footage, all the students were swing dancing together in “the pit” of their classroom, showing off their moves, spinning each other around, laughing, hugging and boogying down.

I was horrified. Would I be required to dance in the middle of the afternoon under the florescent Aldrich lights with these strangers? And without alcohol! What if I just wanted an education? How could I opt-out? The panic was enough to drive me right to my car and back home to New York for a weekend with old, “real” friends.

Well, believe it or not, on the last day of classes last semester, there I was, 11:30 AM, dressed in my required “clubbing” outfit, dancing on top of the professor’s desk to the song, “Girls Just Want to Have Fun,” my whole section bee-bopping below me. Fortunately, someone had the decency to shut the lights off, so we all danced to the shimmer of the “Club B” Disco Ball.

What happened? How had I been transformed into one of those annoying, happy people in the video? I swore it couldn’t happen to me.
First, I have to credit the section format itself. Spending every day with the same classmates, trusting them enough to say the stupidest things, and then hearing their every comment and joke, even predicting who would say what, eventually enabled me to expunge my inhibitions. Plus, our numerous “bonding” experiences over the year from fighting over class dues to playfully ridiculing ourselves during Sky Deck awards, swapping seats during class to seeing each other in Black Tie attire at Hollidazzle, meeting each other’s partners to skiing together in Killington, really made the section friendships inevitable.

Second, I must give credit to my amazing section, filled with fun, wonderful, smart, witty, supportive people. And I thought I knew interesting people before I got to HBS!

Finally, I think getting to know each other through one of the toughest times in recent history coupled with one of the toughest semesters of our academic careers made our collective experience that much more special and unique. Our section anthem, “Survivor” by Destiny’s Child, could not be more apt.

January 28, 2002
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