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End Preferential Treatment for HSA

Letter to the Editors

By Robert G. Bonstein

o the editors:

In your March 5 article, the Harvard Shop manager Finnegan Hamill whines that Ringworks was allowed to sell its wares without the same regulations and procedures other groups have to follow (News, “Company Says Tabling Tactics Don’t Ring True”). All too often, though, the Harvard Student Agencies, Inc. (HSA) brings in revenue by relying on just the sort of special treatment it says Ringworks does not deserve. For example, the distribution services arm of the corporation blatantly states on its website that it is the only College-authorized way to advertise on Harvard’s campus. Every Thursday we are reminded of this allowance as we receive a doorbox full of glossy flyers, coupon books, and other unwanted trash. Distribution services also takes up valuable poster space all over campus by putting up posters for local businesses, spring break trips, and so forth instead of allowing student groups to use the space. At every turn, HSA profits where the student body takes abuse; most noticeably, the College maintains illogical regulations prohibiting microwaves other than those obtainable through HSA.

While HSA’s goal of bringing employment to Harvard Students is a good one, it comes at the cost of students dealing with the ill effects of its College-supported monopolies. If a group is attempting to provide its employees and managers with “practical business experience,” it should get used to having to compete with other companies in the area of in-dorm ring sales and fridge rental. The College should stop preferential treatment of HSA, and the deans should enforce their regulations equally. Most importantly, students should be free from all sales tables, all unsolicited advertisements unconnected to publication content, and illogical regulations dictating who can sell them a microwave.

Robert G. Bonstein ’04

March 5, 2003

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