Tales of Kellogg party debauchery ’embarrassing’

Christina Chaey

Sue, Chicago’s prized T-Rex fossil, didn’t know what hit her when drunken students in the Kellogg School of Management allegedly threw things at the $8.3 million artifact at a party last month at the Field Museum. Students also reportedly vomited on themselves, spat at people and passed out, garnering media attention for the top-tier business school, which Business Week named as the third-best MBA program in the United States in its 2008 ranking.

The debauchery at the Sept. 26 ball for more than 700 new students landed Kellogg in local TV news, the Chicago Tribune and on the front page of the Chicago Sun-Times, with the large headline, “Kellogg’s Toasted Flakes.”

In an e-mail to fellow students, Andrea Hanson, Kellogg Student Association vice president of social and cultural affairs, admonished students for exhibiting behavior that could “decrease the value of a Kellogg MBA for us and future students,” comparing it to “a night out at the Keg.”

Field Museum spokeswoman Nancy O’Shea denied Hanson’s allegations that students threw objects at Sue and damaged museum property. A small group of students exhibited “inappropriate behavior” at the event, said Al Cubbage, vice president for university relations, in an e-mail.

“Such behavior fails to meet the standards that Northwestern expects of all its students,” he said.

Though Cubbage said Kellogg has apologized to the museum, the museum has refused to host future Kellogg events “unless they can treat it like a high school prom, with Breathalyzers, high security, and chaperones,” Hanson said in her e-mail. Hanson did not return multiple calls seeking comment.

First-year Kellogg student John Bahr, 30, attended the event and said he thought many guests probably had too much to drink, though he did not notice anyone “falling down.” He called Hanson’s e-mail a “shock.”

“I didn’t see anyone that seemed to be acting more out of control than you would see at a normal party with that many people,” he said.

The open-bar event served wine and beer until shortly before 11 p.m., though students initially expected the bar to continue serving until midnight, Bahr said.

The now widely circulated e-mail described students who arrived at the event as “already too overserved.” O’Shea declined to comment on the message, stating only that all bartenders hired for the museum’s private events are required to complete the Beverage Alcohol Sellers and Servers Education and Training, a certification process that “equips the bartenders to be able to identify people who are overserved.”

In her e-mail, Hanson attributed the early closure to students’ misbehavior, including those who “attempted to smuggle in a substantial amount of alcohol” and “passed out in high-traffic areas.”

Again, O’Shea refused to confirm those claims, saying the museum does not comment on private events.

“We want to make it very clear to the media that when we hold events, we have security in place,” O’Shea said. “We would never allow anyone to begin damaging our artifacts.”

Cubbage declined to comment on any disciplinary action taken by the university.

For his part, Bahr said he thought the event should not affect the value of his Kellogg degree.

“I think this was an isolated incident where one or two students acted out and it looks badly on all Kellogg students,” Bahr said. “In general, it’s embarrassing that this is something that’s become such a big story… But I don’t think in the long run it’ll have a significant impact on Kellogg’s reputation, which is more based on its academic standing and the quality of the students it produces.”

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