Daniel Park is a journalism senior and Mustang News humor columnist. The views expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the viewpoints or editorial coverage of Mustang News.
Few words are more feared than, “I can’t find my penis.” However, there certainly are words which instill the deepest sense of terror in all of us. At Cal Poly, two words, when combined, usher in a sense of fear — campus food.
Interestingly these two words, when separate, are wonderful. After all, I’ve been told that the Cal Poly campus is beautiful by people who actually take the time to enjoy it. In fact, one of my friends actually teared up as he told me, in unsettling detail, about how close he felt with nature and how he wanted to be “one with the earth.” Hearing his moving speech made me tear up too, but only because he was driving and I couldn’t get out. To this day, you can still see the scratch marks of my fingernails on the inside of his passenger-side door. It’s safe to say he is no longer my friend. Last I heard of him, he tragically died of starvation when he buried his feet in fertile soil and told people, “I’M A FRIGGIN’ TREE!”
And food is generally wonderful, some might say necessary, for our survival. However, when put together, campus food at Cal Poly instills more fear than an 8 a.m. physics class.
It’s sad to say, but Cal Poly, though full of many things — including an uncomfortable number of computer science majors whose main goal in life is to avoid contact with women — must also take responsibility for the aspects of student life in which they fail miserably.
That isn’t to say Campus Dining hasn’t done anything worthwhile. They’ve been very busy ignoring all of the complaints they probably get on a daily basis.
There are times when I want good food, and the only option somewhat close to what I want is Subway. I mean, I love occasionally enjoying a footlong, and then I go to Subway. But the idea that the best Campus Dining option is a company whose main spokesman for many years was a man who was recently found to have inappropriate pictures of children on his computer is not my idea of great dining options.
Not only that, but what can possibly justify the outrageous price inflations of food items on campus? The price of an Odwalla on campus is noticeably higher than the price it commands nearby at Ralphs. You see, Ralphs has this thing called competition, which means that it must fight for profit with other companies in the area. If the prices of food in a grocery store are too high, the consumers have the luxury of doing business with other competitors. Therefore, every grocery store in the area has a lucrative reason to keep their prices as low, if not lower, than their competitors.
However, Campus Dining has none of the above. It doesn’t have competition at Cal Poly. It doesn’t have an incentive to keep its prices low for students. It doesn’t have an incentive to keep the quality of its food above the “gag reflex” line. It DOES have a new batch of students every year who have virtually no choice but to buy into the program, where they must then use their Plu$ Dollars on food they don’t want at prices they don’t want. Fortunately, I’m pretty optimistic about the future. After all, after many decades of facade and abuse, the Soviet Union eventually crumbled into what it is today.
Perhaps that is an unfair comparison. Campus Dining and the Soviet Union are very different, of course. One paralyzes its population through lack of competition and therefore suffered constantly with the crappy quality of its products, and the other is the Soviet Union.
But the worst thing about Campus Dining is how it tries to describe its employees. On Campus Dining’s website for Sandwich Factory they say, “Our talented sandwich craftsmen focus on building specialty sandwiches on fresh baked bread for customers to conveniently take on the go.” Talented sandwich craftsmen? I have no doubt most of the student employees are quite talented, but to go so far as to label them craftsmen makes me think that they make vintage furniture in addition to sandwiches. Also, I have nothing against them personally, but could they occasionally crack a smile? Even my professor gives me a smile every other decade, and she knows I spread rumors of how she prostitutes herself at Farmers’ Market with the street name “Dry as the Sahara.”
Ultimately, whether Campus Dining improves has absolutely nothing to do with us. After all, how many more times do I have to yell “COOK THE CHICKEN MORE” before Campus Dining gets the message?