Inside Chicago Booth's Legendary Halloween Party!
Smurfed Up: the Chicago Booth Belgian Business Students with Brennan and his wife on the far left
Hope you had a happy Halloween, BusinessBecause members! The students on the Chicago Booth MBA certainly did, thanks to the school's fun-loving Belgian Business Students group, which has dominated the party scene for nearly 20 years!
We caught up with Co-Chair Brennan Veys, an American with a love for the Smurfs and waffles to find out about the Belgian Business Students group's legendary Halloween parties!
Brennan was an IBM consultant in New York City before he embarked on the MBA.
So Brennan, how was the party?
It was great; the capacity of our venue is 550 people and we sold out in three days. I think everyone had a great time!
Is this something you do annually?
Yes, so actually this was our 19th annual party. It’s tradition at Booth and one of the larger parties at the school.
So who were your Halloween competitor’s party wise?
None really, people have had small gatherings here and there but this is kind of the official school Halloween party.
Who had the best costume?
The winners were these two guys dressed as the Calvin and Hobbes cartoon!
What did you go as?
The whole club went as Smurfs and I went as Gargamel, the bad guy always trying to catch the Smurfs; my wife went as his cat!
What's the craziest thing that happened at your Halloween party?
Well I think it was pretty well-behaved. But I did see this guy who has a broken leg… He took advantage of his costume came as Professor X and had Wolverine pushing his wheelchair. Instead of going down the wheelchair access route, He tried to go down the stairs and banged his leg pretty hard – I don’t know why he did that!
What are the main aims of the Belgian Business Students group?
Well I'll tell you a little history of the group first. The group got started in late 1980’s, when Chicago Booth had an exchange programme with Belgian universities, and at any given time there were 10 Belgian’s in the school. So its main aim was originally to be a support network for Belgian students.
Now we don’t have as many exchanges and it’s not just for Belgian students, it’s any student with a link to Belgium and a thirst for putting on the biggest parties of the year, who likes Belgian culture and Belgian beer...
What events do you organize in the Belgian Business Students group?
Well firstly we have our two large-scale events, which are the Halloween and Valentines’ party. We also have first and second year Belgian beer tasting events. We own a frite maker, so sometimes we’ll do traditional Belgian cooking and made Belgian frites, or we might go to a traditional restaurant. We’ve recently even thought about doing a waffle breakfast, but we haven’t coordinated that yet. So I’d say it’s around seven events.
How many Belgians are there at Chicago Booth?
Well in the business school five in total; we have one second year, three in first year; and we’ll probably get one more person on the exchange programme.
Belgium isn’t really known for Halloween celebrations. Why did you guys decided to throw this big party?
I think that might be lost in the annals of history. In its formative years the Belgian Business Students group thought a good way to get their name out there would be to throw a Halloween party… But we’re happy they did as it’s a great party!
What do Americans think of when they think of Belgium?
I think it’s culinary: so beer, chocolate and waffles. Also Smurfs and Tin Tin - that’s why we dressed up as Smurfs for the Halloween party. At Booth I think people think of the Halloween party.
Why did you choose the Chicago Booth MBA?
Firstly, the strength of the finance programme, as I was looking to study corporate finance. Also the reputation of the professors and the flexibility of curriculum. My career path is a bit unorthodox as I’m looking to get into the hospitality business. Going to Booth meant I had the opportunity to take some hospitality modules, which I would not have been able to do at any other business school. Also it was coming to the Admit Weekend, where I met current students: it convinced me this is where I fit well.
You're American so what are you doing in the Belgian Business Students group?
At Admit Weekend I saw their table, and thought: why do they have a Belgian club? They sold me on the benefits! People who join tend to have some sort of tie to Belgium. For example I am Belgian by ancestry, one member’s boyfriend is Belgian, and two members have lived in Belgium.
What’s the best social event of the year in Chicago apart from the Halloween party?
Well I've lived in both New York and Chicago. Chicago has all of the same benefits, but the size of the city is more manageable. The Chicago marathon is much easier to get into, and the same goes for restaurants and so on.
One other thing we have in Chicago is Ideas Week, the brainchild of the founders of Groupon. It’s a week-long event and brings together thought leaders from different industries to have conversations with each other and audience members, about pressing topics. We get discounted entry to these events. I went to one that was food focused. They have topics ranging from sustainable farming to veterans who have started entrepreneur ventures. It’s a really cool event in its infancy, a great opportunity for students to do something outside of the university here.
Scroll down to see fabulous photo's from the night!
Hobbes seems a little lost without Calvin!
Calvin seems fine though...
Donnie Darko and ermmm
Booth students doing the Gangnam style!
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