We recently reported that a student-run enterprise at Harvard was shut because it couldn’t meet requirements from the administration.

Student Manuel Cominsky is angered by the decision, indicating that the university has been hypocritical in its approach to campus business practices.

Harvard gave the founders two options if they wanted to continue: Either operate as an outside vendor or be managed through Harvard Student Agencies [HSA], a non-profit organization run by Harvard students. If they became an outside vendor, they would could no longer offer delivery directly to a student’s dorm room and increase their operating expenses. Because this was not an option, the entrepreneurs attempted to negotiate with HSA but could not come to an agreement. With both options exhausted, the InstaNomz business has been suspended indefinitely.

At first glance, the University’s position seems defensible. Having a business delivering food in and out of buildings could create security issues that Harvard does deserve the right to respond to as they see fit. Yet no one knows the actual reason behind the shutdown because the University gave no specific reason for the effectively forced closure.

The HSA performs business operations for students similar in scope to InstaNomz frequently. Some of these HSA services include delivering laundry, water and groceries right up to a student’s dorm room. Upon closer inspection, the dismissal of InstaNomz appears to be a case of the “Kremlin on the Charles” protecting its own state enterprise.

By its own description, HSA is the largest student-run company in the world. The organization serves an important role on campus by providing real jobs to Harvard students instead of a typical work-study program. But at the same time, this group has a monopoly on campus business due to their exclusive ability to operate delivery services within the student dormitories.

So what differentiates the HSA from InstaNomz? Not too much. Both ventures are student-run and serve the purpose of providing jobs and practical business experience for students. ..

…If Harvard permits InstaNomz to operate, it is allowing for students to enjoy their favorite foods without the hassle of leaving their room. More importantly, it will set the standard for other Harvard students to create businesses that could compete with the HSA monopoly. Since competition breeds innovation, it will lead to greater efficiency and convenience along with better prices for Harvard students.

Despite the plethora of successful startups that have emerged from Harvard College, the entrepreneurial environment the university declares it has does not exist. The University cannot be allowed to continue to claim to foster entrepreneurial culture, then turn around and fight it…