After discovering that Collegiate Entrepreneurs was using classrooms and breakout rooms in Paul College to recruit and hire students, UNH’s director of Employment Relations, Raina Sarvaiya, sent an email on Friday, Feb. 10, at 9:20 p.m. to students. The email stated that there had been “…a recent issue with a fraudulent employer trying to recruit UNH students. The employees and representatives of Collegiate Entrepreneurs, Inc. do not have permission to conduct recruiting, hiring or training activities on the UNH campuses. UNH does not endorse their opportunities and advises that you do not engage with them in any way.”
According to Collegiate Entrepreneur’s vice president of operations, Christopher Sullivan, information in the email was false and Collegiate Entrepreneurs Inc. requested that UNH issue a retraction of the email.
At 9:56 p.m., Sarvaiya sent a follow-up email, correcting prior statements, saying that “[The Office of Career and Professional Success] previously misstated that College Entrepreneurs, Inc. and College Pro Painters (which are separate and unaffiliated) are not legitimate companies. The prior communications should have said that the two companies do not have permission to conduct recruiting, hiring or training activities on the UNH campuses. Their employment opportunities are not endorsed by UNH and have not been approved for posting on the Wildcat Careers job board.”
“The UNH attorney had committed to our attorney to get approval from us as to the content of that retraction email before sending it out, but ultimately they did not comply with that agreement,” Collegiate Entrepreneurs Inc. Quality Controller, Christina Harrington said.
According to Kimberly Clark, UNH’s director of career and professional services, UNH’s attorney stated that they “don’t agree with the characterization that we committed to getting [College Entrepreneurs]’s attorney’s approval first before sending the email, and we did solicit his feedback and took it into account before sending the statement.”
“We were extremely disappointed that UNH circulated false and misleading statements about Collegiate Entrepreneurs, Inc., stating that we are ‘not a legitimate company’ and were a ‘scam.’ Neither of these statements are true,” Collegiate Entrepreneurs Inc. President, Eric Crews, said. Crews felt that making these statements without any basis in fact was irresponsible of UNH administration to make.
“Collegiate Entrepreneurs is a corporation in good standing, licensed, insured and has provided great employment opportunities to hundred of college students over the years,” Crews said.
“Following [the discovery of Collegiate Entrepreneurs Inc. in classrooms and breakout rooms of Paul College], we had students come to the office of the career director in Paul with concerns and complaints…they didn’t have permission to recruit our students and they didn’t have permission to be using our office,” Associate Vice Provost of the Career and Professional Success Team, Trudy Van Zee, said.
There appeared to be confusion circulating through Collegiate Entrepreneurs Inc. regarding their “ban” from campus. Sullivan, who began working with Collegiate Entrepreneurs Inc. during his freshman year at UNH, has been working with the company for 17 years since.
“We weren’t aware of any bans,” Sullivan said. “When [Collegiate Entrepreneurs Inc. visited] campus, some of our representatives would speak in classrooms. Of course, we’d ask professors to borrow a minute before their class started and professors would say yes.”
College Pro Painters, which is separate and unaffiliated with Collegiate Entrepreneurs Inc. also were discouraged by the emails. North American Marketing Manager, Deb Wall, said on behalf of College Pro Painters that College Pro has been in business since 1971 and recruits, trains, and coaches over 500 individuals annually. According to Wall, College Pro services over 2,000 customers annually and has an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau.
“College Pro takes a significant amount of pride in providing summer jobs for students and an entrepreneurial experience for those who want to learn how to run their own business,” Wall said. “We are proud of our rich history, and consciously work to be transparent, honest, and respectful in our recruiting practices.”
Wall said that College Pro is currently attempting to contact the University to better understand what prompted these emails, but hasn’t been able to reach anyone yet.
“College Pro has not been, to my knowledge, physically on campus, nor are they interested in being on campus…it is important not to accuse College Pro Painters of being on campus,” Van Zee said, to clarify.
Similarly, “A lot of information [in the emails] was just untrue [which] made me sad because I’ve been doing this for a long time and we’ve had a lot of successful managers from UNH. I stay in contact with and am good friends with a lot of them. One of them is my daughters godfather,” Sullivan, of Collegiate Entrepreneurs Inc. said.
“I’m not sure what [UNH’s] definition of ‘legitimate’ is, but we’ve been a business for 17 years, we pay taxes, we have tax payer ID numbers, insurances…I guess in the eyes of the state of Massachusetts and the federal government who takes our tax money I guess were legit…I guess [they’re] entitled to their opinion, but I would disagree,” he said. He called his experience with Collegiate Entrepreneurs over the years “life-changing.”
UNH students and alumni had mixed opinions regarding Collegiate Entrepreneurs, Inc.
“I had a great relationship with many of the leaders on campus when I was there and actively recruiting branch managers for my team,” said Kurt Eddins, a 2012 graduate of UNH who worked for Collegiate Entrepreneurs for five years before running a start-up business in Portsmouth called Campus Feedback.
According to Eddins, who was also a member of UNH’s student government, a resident assistant, and on the golf team, he had a very good relationship with members of the UNH community, such as President Huddleston and Dr. Mark Rubenstein, who was vice president of student and academic services at the time.
“There was a number of different ways that we would build awareness of the program…There was never any issue…I never got any pushback,” Eddins said. “I really enjoyed everything I did at UNH and Collegiate was a big part of that.”
Some current students, however, see the company differently.
“The first red flag I saw was that I was required to go to a training session that was unpaid and ended up costing me money,” Rebecca Lincoln, a sophomore bioengineering student, said regarding her experience with Collegiate Entrepreneurs Inc. Lincoln worked as a branch manager for about four months before quitting.
“I had invested well over a hundred hours and hundreds of dollars in this and did not make a cent,” Lincoln said. “I even personally gave a painter $40 for gas that I was never reimbursed. The managers pick and choose when they wanted to answer [questions] and often ignored me once I had quit, but had questions while I was trying to finalize things…When I was working for [Collegiate Entrepreneur’s Inc.], they micromanaged and then once I was not officially working anymore they didn’t care at all.
According to an email from Clark, the companies listed in the emails are considered, by definition, multi-level marketing companies. Her email stated that:
“Regarding the criteria [listed companies] don’t meet, [they] charge a fee or investment for employment. Students need to invest in equipment/pay for employees out of pocket, [with] no salary paid [and] a placement fee or investment prior to employment. Students had to invest in promotional materials/equipment [and were] charged $500 for termination of contract by Collegiate [Entrepreneurs Inc.]. Not sure about College Pro [Painters].”
As stated on UNH’s University Advising and Career Center webpage, multi-level marketing “will not be approved for the University of New Hampshire and Wildcat Careers.”
According to Paul Harvey, associate professor of management, it isn’t surprising that companies ask which rules they’re breaking.
“You’ll hear that a lot from their representatives,” Harvey said. “Everything is legal, by the rules, spelled out in the contracts, etc. and it’s true. There’s nothing illegal about running a business that can only function if its recruits don’t understand what they’re getting into…” Harvey believes that, because UNH’s Recruiting and Posting Requirements list isn’t exhaustive, companies will argue that they should be able to post because it states that unapproved positions “include” these things, but not that only these types of companies/positions are allowed.
“I’m not a lawyer but I would guess that schools have the legal power to make case-by-case decisions on who is allowed to function on their property, whether they think it’s worth the legal fees etc. is a different story, and probably what these companies are betting on,” Harvery said.
Further UNH requirements for job recruiting and posting on campus can be found at http://www.unh.edu/uacc/career/posting-jobs-and-internships.