There's something fishy in the Price Center

    The Che Cafe cooperative serves food just twice a week, and for only two hours at a time.

    Wendy’s opens at 7 a.m. on weekdays and closes at midnight.

    The Student Center Food Co-op doesn’t sell meat, and is open from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m.

    The Price Center Subway offers low-priced sandwiches every day from 9 a.m. until 10 p.m.

    Canyon Vista, the lone source of nearby hot food for Earl Warren College residents, provides a meager menu except at designated meal times, then closes at 7:30 p.m.

    The Price Center restaurants are the main source of somewhat good-quality food on campus, and their presence is in the students’ best interests.

    Corporate food chains are what provide commuters with sustenance, and on-campus residents with the occasional respite from the heinous offerings of the meal-point restaurants. The chains feed campus visitors and students looking for a decent meal. We know what to expect from the chains: fast service, low prices, a varied menu and predictably decent food.

    Most meal-point restaurants have limited selections except during peak hours, they close at 7:30 p.m. and the prices are somewhat high for the quality of food offered.

    Ready-made sandwiches vary wildly in quality and size, depending on the competency and generosity of the on-duty sandwich-maker.

    The best nonbottled drink at Canyon Vista, Passion Orange Guava, is out of stock far too often. The signs on the drink machines advertise an 8 ounce drink that is not even for sale.

    Lines at meal-point restaurants are long and tend to move slowly. The TVs are frequently tuned to stations showing either lousy 1990s-era cartoons or professional billiards tournaments, which greatly saddens me.

    Despite the monthly serving of $7 steak, which can be cleverly hidden in a hamburger bun to become a $3 hamburger, and great waffles and eggs for breakfast, restaurants that accept meal points as payment are inferior places for dining.

    The typical co-op is not open often enough to warrant being dubbed a food establishment. The Che deigns to serve food only on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and only from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. The rest of the time, it is an extremely leftist, highly political society of garden-growing activists that protest the construction of storage sheds while fighting for dozens of progressive causes — which is perfectly fine, except that it calls itself a cafe. Cafes usually serve food more often than protesting for living wages for janitors. As a result, the Che Cafe cannot be accurately described as a restaurant in the conventional sense.

    The Food Co-op actually concentrates on selling good food, if you like nuts, berries and fig bars, which I do. However, like practically every co-op in the Student Center, it does not take TritonPlus or credit cards, which is exceedingly annoying for on-campus residents and those who do not carry cash everywhere. Most co-ops, with the exception of the General Store, do not accept credit cards because of the fees associated with their use.

    According to sources within the co-ops, they don’t honor TritonPlus because of moral objections to the hegemonic administration and the difficulties students have in withdrawing funds from TritonPlus accounts.

    Although the reasoning behind that policy is understandable, it is nevertheless an inconvenience. The co-ops operate at their own pace, without the managerial hierarchy found in for-profit corporations.

    Without the hierarchy, things tend to move slowly. The long lines at Groundwork Books and the inadequate service at the Food Co-op are side effects of the student cooperatives’ strong-mindedness and high sense of morality.

    The co-ops have little to fear from the Price Center food court. Co-op food is so vastly different from the food sold by Price Center businesses that the two are not really in competition. Discerning students wanting an on-campus job still appreciate the flexible hours and relatively high pay rates of the student co-ops, despite the presence of corporate chains on campus.

    The only threat to the co-ops posed by a for-profit business on campus would be if a vegan health food store were to move in and replace Wok’s Up, which is unlikely.

    The corporations on campus provide a necessary function, just as the co-ops do. It is in the best interests of the students, and vital to provide student choice, to have both.

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