Yesterday I heard a microphone in the cloister-like courtyard outside my office. There was a small crowd around a man who was saying slowly, articulating carefully: "... Third: David Smith. [Sound of hands clapping]. Fourth: Jane Doe. [Sound of hands clapping]...": he was publicly proclaiming the results (in the humanities) of the entrance exam of Ecole Normale Superieure!
A few minutes later, I walked across the yard and saw people scattered about, some with a big smile on their face, others crying. Many people were on the phone.
I wonder: Results and rankings are public in France: they are published in the newspapers, and grades are posted on bulletin boards outside schools. But this ceremonial in the historical courtyard goes one more step towards delivering praise and humiliation, and maximizes anxiety among candidates. Could this setup be considered a form of hazing?