Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

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Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

GUSA Senate to Investigate Student Businesses Ban

The Georgetown University Student Associate Senate voted unanimously Sunday to authorize the Student Life Committee to investigate the university’s ban on the operation of student businesses on campus.

University policies regarding concessions and student businesses currently state that students living in university housing may not engage in private business or commercial activities in their residence. The ban prohibits students from using a room address, telephone line or Internet connection to conduct any type of business activity.

The Buyback Brothers, four students who tried to operate a book buyback program in Red Square during final exams last spring, first raised the issue with Vice Speaker Nate Tisa (SFS ’14).

The Buyback Brothers said they were forced off campus by Department of Public Safety officers after a university administrator reported them. Since then, the group has used a licensed vendor truck outside the front gates to conduct its business.

“The students appreciated our service. Some professors even sell back books to us, too,” Jordan Green (COL’12), one of the company’s founders, said.

Green added that previously, residence assistants and hall directors didn’t have problems with the company going into dorms.

“It seems like the university policy is targeted against the students,” Sam Kane (SFS ’14), a member of the Buyback Brothers, said. “We wouldn’t have any business if the bookstore wasn’t ripping people off.”

Senate Speaker Adam Talbot argued that the university policy is unequally applied across student businesses.

H2Bro Delivery, a student-run business that delivers snacks and drinks to dorms, was used as an example of a student business that should not be allowed by the university policy, but has had not been sanctioned by the administration.

“The Buyback Brothers was competing with the bookstore. If you look at a lot of student-run businesses, in some sense, they are completely non-cannibalistic with other auxiliary business, and they operate just fine,” Talbot said.

Tisa also suggested that the ban is largely enforced against businesses that compete with auxiliary services.

“There are student businesses that operate despite this ban, but not because they have special permission,” he said. “It’s interesting that the only student businesses on the university’s radar are those that cut into the margins of the auxiliary services, like the eFollett bookstore. There’s definitely an element of monopoly involved.”

According to The BuyBack Brothers, no concrete explanations to the inconsistent enforcement of the policy have been given, despite multiple attempts to contact the administration.

The bill calls upon the university administration to establish a framework for the student business to register and operate legally on campus.

“We would like to see a more moderate approach, whereby students have some kind of process for getting their ideas approved,” Green said. “Ultimately, we are looking for a more comprehensive set of policies that serve to protect all students while at the same time aim to encourage innovative ideas that add value to our campus.”

Correction: The article previously named Jordan Green (COL ’12) as Jason Green.

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