Vending: Part of Penn's Culture
I find it both distressing and sad that the University feels a need to limit or eliminate the presence of lunch trucks on campus. The lunch truck culture in Philadelphia, and most notably on the Penn campus, is a unique positive feature of this city and of my school.
The trucks provide students, staff, and patients with not only cuilinary diversity at affordable prices, but also convenience and longer hours of operations than places such as those in Houston Hall or the food court on Walnut Street. Furthermore, they offer a level of personal service that is lacking in many other places on campus and elsewhere. The owners and operators of the food trucks are, for the most part, friendly and know their customers. As a student at this university for many years myself, I know personally how important it is to have this sort of relationship to feel more connected with life in Philadelphia. Being able to eat well on $4.00 is also something I have not found in the food court. (The Mexican Connection on Spruce Street was even mentioned in this year's "Best of..." issue of Philadelphia Magazine.)
It appears that Penn is not interested in the quality of life of its students and employees, given the emphasis on money that pervades the "response" to every question. As a result many students have vowed to reduce their spending with University-affiliated merchants in protest.
I am now completing my M.D./Ph.D. program here, so the impact of my altering my spending at such places is unlikely to be of moment. However, I know I will soon be hearing from the Alumni Office regarding dues and possible donations. I have written to that office already voicing my intention to not give any monies to Penn at any time in the future if the University insists on destroying the lunch trucks' business. In contrast, I have already given to my undergraduate institution, and only last week pledged a new donation to that school, as the money will be used to improve students' quality of life. Perhaps Penn could take a lesson.
--Alice I. Sato, MDP '98
Almanac, Vol. 44, No. 29, April 14, 1998