one social movement sociologists can safely ignore

From the SF Gate, a report about an anti-Panda Express group at UC Berekeley. Choice clips:

UC Berkeley student Yonatan Landau shelled out $90 to rent a panda suit. That’s the form political protest is taking at Cal these days.

Landau is one of the leaders of a campaign to prevent Panda Express from coming to campus. So far, more than 1,300 students have signed a petition opposing a plan to bring the fast-food outlet to Lower Sproul Plaza.

A resurgent identity indeed:

Byron Mazire, an 18-year-old freshman, played the role of the profiteering panda. He wore the suit Landau had found in a San Francisco costume shop and carried two enormous fake money bags.

“I’m very new to a lot of this stuff,” Mazire said. “It’s my first protest and my first time as a panda.”

Perhaps Brayden can get a sit down interview with the Panda Express leadership:

The chain’s slogan is “Experience Pandamonium.” But the resistance at Cal is not what Panda officials had in mind.

“Students are usually very excited about us,” said Arthur Chang, real estate manager for Panda Express. “But let’s put it this way: We understand Berkeley is a very unique culture.”

He said Panda Express has 1,100 locations in the United States. The restaurant can be found at 36 universities, including UC campuses in San Francisco, Santa Barbara, Los Angeles and San Diego.

On Thursday, Chang flew up from Los Angeles to meet with the Store Operations Board of the ASUC (Associated Students of the University of California), which controls use of the space that Panda would occupy. He encountered scores of protesters.

“It’s the only time this has happened,” Chang said.

Better watch out for that stock price dip.

Written by fabiorojas

March 8, 2009 at 12:05 am

Posted in fabio, fun, social movements

14 Responses

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  1. I had to click-through to the story to see what exactly the students were upset about and it seems like the only answer is “pretty much everything.” Looks like somebody needs to read “categorical imperative.”


    Gabriel Rossman

    March 8, 2009 at 12:21 am

  2. Why would we want to ignore this one? This movement makes complete sense when you consider the local food culture of Berkeley. One of the things that makes Berkeley’s culture unique is the availability of lots of (relatively inexpensive) independent restaurants that rely on local products. Many of them are ethnic. The invasion of a corporate-owned fast food chain like Panda Express would be seen as a real threat to the well being of the homegrown businesses and the culture of the place. First it’s Panda and then it’s McDonald’s and then Berkeley has become just another college town….I’m all riled up just writing about it!



    March 8, 2009 at 6:07 am

  3. Fuck locally grown food.

    Berkeley is filled with liberal white elites who use things like – i eat expensive locally grown food to distinguish themselves from everybody else. Its hilarious that they can talk about culture. Their culture is shallow, faddish and exclusive. Fuck locally grown food.



    March 8, 2009 at 6:23 am

  4. “Gabriel,” how much did you really understand of what you read? It seems like the only answer is “pretty much nothing.” Looks like somebody needs to read “better.”

    And, “assman”, your name is fittng, though “dumbass hater” would’ve worked as well.



    March 8, 2009 at 6:41 am

  5. I actually think that the “assman” is more fitting because everything he/she said was crap.


    Mark Bissonnette

    March 8, 2009 at 12:43 pm

  6. […] Hat tip: Org theory […]


  7. This takes me back to the days when the McDonald’s on Kirkwood in Bloomington closed. Of course, that was replaced a while later by a Chipotle, which was majority-owned by McDonald’s at the time.



    March 8, 2009 at 2:29 pm

  8. This “movement” may mostly consist of middle class, white students, but that doesn’t mean they’re wrong. Corporate fast food contributes to obesity and cancer and has homogenized our cities and college towns. Brayden’s got it right — part of what makes Berkeley and the East Bay distinctive is the high number of small businesses, especially ethnic restaurants. I know I was unhappy when the university where I attended graduate school filled its main student cafeteria with fast food outlets. I have eaten on the Berkeley campus and very much enjoyed what was on offer — esepcially the awesome Vietnamese tofu spring rolls!



    March 8, 2009 at 5:27 pm

  9. I don’t know if this particular grievance is a “movement” — the space that Panda Express wants to lease as part of its larger plan of getting the college market is owned by the student union, while the other on-campus eateries are owned/managed by the university and, as I understand, outstanding examples of Berkeley’s food culture: — but the culture of protest does characterize the Cal undergrad experience and is, for better or worse, one if its selling points to prospective students. Come spring, one of the signs of the change in seasons besides longer days and buds in the gnarled poplars is the crowd of protestors on upper Sproul Plaza.



    March 8, 2009 at 6:09 pm

  10. The Panda Protest reminds me of two sad things related to my yrs in graduate school:
    (1) the demise of the Michigan League cafeteria/tearoom, replaced by corporate food court, and (2) the contrast between what used to spark a protest and what does so now… I’m thinking of the verging-on-asinine graduate student protests at NYU and The New School (both, oddly, occurred in and near the cafeteria but were not food related).
    These new-fangled student protests are unfocused, elitist, and overall just ineffectual. They sully the reputation of “real” graduate student activists… Not like I recall *fondly* the “Silence=Death Die In”, or various protests about the (first) Gulf War at UofM, or striking to get health insurance as a TA, but I remember these protest as relevant, focused and meaningful. If sometimes ineffectual, we at least had some goals.


    CV Harquail

    March 8, 2009 at 9:19 pm

  11. This is interesting (from the linked article):

    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.

    I wouldn’t have expected the protest to get results, although it’s possible that Berkeley’s styrofoam ban would have meant a change in packing regardless. Anyway, I wonder if Panda Express will actually be successful in that location. During the years I lived in Berkeley, it seemed like there was a lot of turnover in the spaces where I think – based on the article’s description – the restaurant will be located. In some ways having so many options near campus might actually hurt on campus businesses.



    March 9, 2009 at 1:00 am

  12. A few years ago at Ohio State, at the height of the Iraq war, the undergrad population had a very well organized protest movement…to prevent half of the Oval from being closed Spring quarter for repairs. The students “won” and Coca-Cola chipped in 40 grand to delay the repairs for the Summer quarter, when the entire Oval was closed (the original plan was half in Spring, the other half in Summer). A more appropriate example of the pathetic, self-absorbed nature of student protest I cannot imagine. They were literally protesting the fact that their games of frisbee would be constrained.



    March 10, 2009 at 2:26 pm

  13. […] By midnight tomorrow, drop off 1,000,000,000 scatterplot dollars in a small duffel bag by the Panda Express, next to the guy in the panda suit. […]


  14. […] Previous silly social movements… […]


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