Saturday, March 7, 2009

The Worst And The Weakest

For whatever reason, UC Berkeley's population of the Perpetually Outraged are bent out of shape because a Panda Express has dared to move in on campus: Berkeley students decry proposed Panda Express

So far, more than 1,300 students have signed a petition opposing a plan to bring the fast-food outlet to Lower Sproul Plaza.

"This will severely damage UC Berkeley's reputation as a leader in sustainability," said music major Landau, 21, who is part of a group that favors a student-run food cooperative instead. "I don't want Cal to look like a strip mall."


Students surrounded him and chanted, "Panda Express doesn't pass the test."

Their reasons were as varied as Panda's menu, which ranges from orange chicken and Beijing beef to eggplant tofu and Kung Pao shrimp.

Some said a student-run food coop, modeled on The Local - a thriving weekly produce stand in Sproul Plaza - would provide a true alternative, offering cheap, healthy and sustainable fare. Supporters are putting together a business plan.

"People can already eat cheap, indigestible, Americanized Chinese food around campus," said public health major Laura Zelko, 19.

Um, OK. As usual, Panda Express is being hung out to dry while the UC staff that negotiated the lease, and is supposed to things on campus run smoothly, is MIA. That means Panda is frantically giving into specious "demands."
Responding to student concerns, Panda also has agreed to provide vegetarian options, biodegradable packing, locally grown produce, Alameda County green certification, oil free of trans fat and other firsts for the 26-year-old corporation.

There's kind of a comic element to all this. Luckily, Berkeley's more scholarly pupils are looking at this with calm consideration and are taking the long view:
"We've kept a bastion of small, locally owned businesses at Cal forever," said Matt Marks, 25, an American studies major. "We won't have that kind of intimate relationship with Panda Express."
"Forever" is a long time Mr. "Born in 1983." Still, I admire how someone so young has learned the cliches of the anti-business Left so quickly and thoroughly. 

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