The HBS Administration’s Flag Policy

Dean Badaracco defends the administration’s current policy to only allow the raising of flags recognized by the International Olympic Committee.

Among the great advantages of a Harvard MBA is the opportunity to be a part of a diverse community that reflects a wide array of beliefs, backgrounds, and experiences. While this can prove challenging at times, the rewards are immeasurable. ÿOur differences truly are our strengths. Yet diversity inherently courts differing opinions and at times, outright disagreement. The current discussion regarding national flags in the RC classrooms is a case in point.

The student experience at HBS is built around the section – it is with this core group of 90 that one will build lifelong friendships and invaluable contacts. ÿ The idea of the section itself came from the desire to create a haven of encouragement and support, a group that enables students to learn from one another, and try out new skills and leadership abilities. ÿWhat makes this experience so unique is the diverse perspectives and points of view found in each of our classrooms; and every section is in itself an exercise in international relations, with talented students from all corners of the world, industry, and professional interest. ÿSections are specifically designed to draw students into active discussion.

The School’s basic policy – jointly developed by administration and RC student leaders several years ago – is that only national flags recognized by the Olympic Committee can be hung in classrooms. This discussion over the flags has come up in years past, and I know from experience that sections can spend endless amounts of time debating the issue. The current policy was adopted in the first place because of the extraordinary amount of time and emotion it took to attempt to solve something among each new RC section that even the UN and other international agencies have not yet been able to accomplish.

For the most part, the majority of students enjoy the freedom and opportunity to hang their country flags, and we are happy to enable RC students to display their heritage with pride. ÿHowever, it is important to remember that each section uses their classroom on a time-share basis and to be mindful of other guests, such as recruiters, alumni, speakers, EC students or simply those from other sections.