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The Harvard Business School (HBS) has announced that student organizations can no longer use the school’s largest auditorium for performances, prompting students groups to form a coalition to advocate for continued use of the facilities.
The HBS administration said last week they will restrict usage of Burden and Splanger auditoriums to academic events and conferences because the facilities were built with only these functions in mind, according to MBA Program Chair Joseph L. Badaracco.
Following the construction of Burden Hall—which has a capacity of 900—use of its auditorium was limited to speeches, lectures, and symposia, as well as performances of the annual student-produced “HBS Show.”
The show has been performed in Burden Auditorium since 1974, long before the venue opened to other student clubs, and is the only performance that will not be affected by the change.
“The ‘HBS Show’ has been a central part of the HBS tradition for over 30 years.
The recent Burden Auditorium policy reflects this difference, and this is the reason why we have been willing to take Burden Auditorium off-line once a year and devote extra resources to ensure the show’s success,” Badaracco wrote in an e-mailed statement.
Due to increasing student requests, the administration “experimented” with opening the space to more performances by student groups two years ago, according to Badaracco.
“Part of the rationale for the recent policy is that we expected a growing number of student groups to ask [for] the auditorium,” Badaracco wrote.
The policy announced last week applies to any student organization looking to host a very large arts event.
Shows such as “Africa Night,” “Diwali,” and “Sankofa” will have to move to the Williams Room, which seats 300 to 400 people, or relocate off-campus.
“Since the Williams Room is smaller, some of the performances would have to run over additional nights,” Badaracco wrote.
“Africa Night” is part of the annual Africa Business Conference, which began nine years ago.
This year it gathered over 800 people from all over the world, said Eric N. Otoo, a second-year MBA student and former co-president of the Africa Business Club (ABC), which hosts the events.
The ABC has formed a coalition with other student arts organizations on campus to persuade the administration to allow continued use of Burden Auditorium.
“Most of those campus spaces are not appropriate for this kind of event, so we might need to find an off-campus space,” Otoo said.
He added that this would increase event costs and create logistical inconveniences.
Otoo said that the current leadership of ABC is meeting with Badaracco and other HBS administrators.
The current ABC leadership and the African-American Student Union declined to comment, and South Asian Business Association members could not be reached for comment.
–Staff writer Daniela Nemerenco can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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