Students, administrators re-examine small business policies

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Members of entrepreneurial club Oxypreneurship and administrators are collaborating to help students start campus businesses while remaining in accordance with state law. These efforts are part of Oxypreneurship’s aim to promote entrepreneurial education on campus.

According to Oxypreneurship member and economics major Siddharth Saravat (junior), Oxypreneurship is focused on increasing access to entrepreneurship on campus and making it a reality for all students. The Occidental policy prohibiting students from running businesses on campus is a major hindrance to this goal.

The Occidental student handbook states that, “Students and staff may not establish or operate a business on campus property for personal profit, nor may they use campus facilities to conduct any portion of such businesses.”

Saravat noted the restrictions placed on student-run businesses are due more to government policies than the college’s. Despite the restraints, college administrators and Oxypreneurship are attempting to work within the policy to give students the resources needed to succeed.

“A lot of the administration and staff on campus are on board with us,” Saravat said. “We are working with them on finding a way to provide students the experience of running a business but staying true to the policy. We have come to consensus for an educational experience.”

Assistant Dean of Students for Student Development and Director of Student Life Tamara Rice said that restrictions on student-run businesses bans are not uncommon among colleges. Government policy prohibits use of college property for personal financial gain at not-for-profit colleges, according to Rice.

“It does have tax implications, and that is why we have to be careful about operating like a business or being an incubator for businesses,” Rice said. “However,we also want to encourage student learning on how to run a business.We do have the Green Bean, and that’s a student business. We also have student serviceslike The [Occidental] Weekly and Bengal Bus that collect revenue and operate.We want to support entrepreneurial activity, but just do it in a way that the framework allows us.”

Rice went on to explain that if the activity has a direct link to a class or an academic endeavor, it is much easier to gain approval. She stated that the policy does not prohibit business models supervised by a faculty member because they fall under the category of an academic exercise.

Undeclared Joshua Eidelman (first-year) hopes to start a laundry business and is optimistic about the recent efforts by Oxypreneurship and the administration. He said that it used to be difficult to start a business, but a commitment by the administration to promoting entrepreneurship has made the process easier.

“The Vice President of Finance [and Planning Amos Himmelstein] is all about supporting students on campus,” Eidelman said. “Prior, there were legality issues, but he’s been helping us override all that. It’s an ongoing process but there are major strides in the opposite direction.”

According to Eidelman, a critical part of starting a business on campus is the Oxypreneurship “Incubation Team,” which helps students through the legal process of starting a business. Saravat, a member the Incubation Team, said that the group aims to take business ideas and turn them into a reality.