HBS Students Fight Stereotypes with Food Bank Fundraiser

The actions of Ben Edelman, the Harvard Business School professor who landed in the national news this week by quarreling with the manager of a Chinese restaurant about a $4 overcharge, have spurred HBS students to publicly denounce his behavior.

HBS students often confront the negative stereotype that they are elitist and self-involved. One first-year student felt that Edelman’s behavior only furthered that perception, and he acted quickly to change the tide of public opinion.

Jon Staff and other HBS students decided to launch a campaign asking members of the public to donate $4 – the amount of the Edelman overcharge – to the Greater Boston Food Bank, Boston.com reports.

From the fundraiser homepage:

Negative stereotypes of Harvard and HBS were reinforced by an article in Boston.com about a $4 dispute between an HBS professor and a small business owner. In accordance with our community values, we are calling on all Harvard students to flip the script by donating $4 to provide food for those in need.  All donations will be given to The Greater Boston Food Bank, which will match all donations received before December 31.

“It’s an upsetting article,” Staff told Boston.com. “People here are really amazing and smart and supportive and humble. What Edelman did makes it much harder to make the case that this is an institution full of good people. This one action doesn’t define who we are as a community. Or it shouldn’t.”

Edelman has since apologized for his actions on his website. “I aspire to act with great respect and humility in dealing with others, no matter what the situation. Clearly I failed to do so. I am sorry, and I intend to do better in the future,” he wrote.

As of Thursday morning, the campaign had raised $4,994, with 320 contributors.

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