College to Allow Dorm-Room Businesses

Dean of the College Harry R. Lewis '68 on Friday proposed rewording the College rules to allow students to run businesses from their dorm rooms.

The current regulations forbid Harvard students from operating any business out of their rooms or using any Harvard resources--such as a dorm telephone line or Harvard network connection--for business purposes.

Students have always been allowed to start their own businesses off campus, but many student entrepreneurs have said restrictions on dorm use had made such ventures very difficult.


"In the past, if you wanted to operate a business as a Harvard student, it was a little awkward to work around the restrictions," said Johann M. Schleier-Smith '01, who is a co-founder of the online textbook purchasing website

The proposed new wording of the Handbook for Students, unveiled at the Friday meeting of the joint student-faculty Committee on House Life, would allow students to operate businesses from their room, but only on a limited basis.

Student wishing to run businesses would be required to register their intention to do so with the office of the dean of the College.

Under the new proposal, moderate use of Harvard's resources for business purposes would be allowed, but students would be required to ensure their use of resources such as their Harvard mailing address or personal web pages did not become "excessive."

Schleier-Smith said he didn't think it would be difficult for students to moderate their use of Harvard resources for business activities. According to Schleier-Smith, student-entrepreneurs usually prefer to keep business use of their dorm rooms to a minimum anyway.

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