While campus group Students For Change is fronting a large-scale petition to bring President Barack Obama to speak at next year’s spring commencement, Matthew Brueckmann, a junior at UC Berkeley studying mechanical engineering, is rallying the support of students to sign a petition to bring In-N-Out and Krispy Kreme to Lower Sproul Plaza.
Huh. Why In-N-Out and Krispy Kreme?
Because Brueckmann loves them. “I made (the petition) over Christmas break after realizing I needed to get my last fix of In-N-Out before going back to school,” he says. In-N-Out and Krispy Kreme are easily accessible in his hometown, and he frequents them at least once a week. Plus, he’s got fundraising in mind. “I know a lot of clubs use Krispy Kreme and In-N-Out — those are really popular and sell out really quickly,” Brueckmann observes.
Has this ever even happened?
A couple of universities enjoy the luxury of an In-N-Out or Krispy Kreme within walking distance from main campus, but very few actually have one on campus. “I know there’s an In-N-Out right across the street from UC Irvine, but I don’t think any college has one on campus,” says Brueckmann. The nearest Krispy Kreme to UC Berkeley is in Concord, a half-hour drive, and the nearest In-N-Out is in Oakland, a 20-minute drive. “Having these options readily available to students will not only make things a lot more convenient for a lot of people and organizations, it’ll also enhance the dining experience in a city that already has diverse food options,” Brueckmann argues.
Has this ever been tried on our campus before?
In 2007, Panda Express approached UC Berkeley’s Commercial and Student Services Board — formerly the Store Operations Board — to be the first fast-food chain on Lower Sproul. Students found out about this and launched a protest against them in fall 2008. At the time, the petition against Panda Express received well over 500 signatures, citing problems such as unhealthiness and unsustainability and the cheapening of the university. Bruekmann calls his petition the “anti-protest to that protest” because he believes that the public would feel differently about In-N-Out and Krispy Kreme than they did about Panda Express.
Although there is a general consensus that In-N-Out is food for the gods, Brueckmann’s petition has still been met with a high amount of opposition. The past three months have subjected him to an equal number of supportive and irate messages on Facebook, mostly voicing concerns about introducing franchises to a place so proactive in shutting them out. He’s caught in the crossfire of the controversy between corporations and family-owned businesses. “I don’t think big businesses are trying to push small businesses out,” he says. “There are so many vacant spots within reasonable distance from our campus now that it wouldn’t make sense to not use them.” Most people forget that In-N-Out is a family-owned business and that Subway, the world’s largest fast-food chain in terms of units, sits immediately across the Sproul Plaza entrance on Bancroft Way.
OK. So how would this happen?
Currently, Brueckmann’s petition is almost halfway to its initial goal of 500 signatures. If it receives 500 signatures, Brueckmann will submit a letter to the Commercial and Student Services Board along with all the signatures and supportive feedback, which he thinks is the final institutional step in getting his request approved or disapproved. However, the details of the process are still murky, and he hopes to find out more about it through his experiences with the CCSB. As for the petition, he feels that it has a fighting chance. “We already have over 200 signatures and numerous comments left on the page itself. I think we already have strong support and will make a change in the way food establishments are brought to campus,” he reports.
Is there anything else you should know?
Brueckmann’s petition is not solely about making ends meet — bringing the two restaurant stores to Lower Sproul is a goal, but his passion lies in encouraging talk on the topic. “I just want to start the conversation,” he says. “People should start thinking about why popular options like these are being shut out. There are a lot of food options being held back from students because they don’t know about them or because of the misconceptions people have about larger businesses and healthy and unhealthy foods.” Ultimately, his petition is centered on bringing awareness to students about why the restaurants we see around campus today exist and about the elusive intricacies that go into the approval and disapproval of a store opening. “People should be more informed about the process so that they can be more active in deciding what they want around them, and my petition gives them the chance to do that.”
Can I sign the petition?
Brueckmann is currently a one-man army on this mission, and it will entail a lot of dedication and hard work for it all to come down. He plans to keep us updated through his page on change.org. You can check out the petition here.
Image Source: Thomas Hawk