On Ike’s, protest and privilege May 22, 2014 25 Comments Share tweet Matt Lopez By: Matt Lopez “We’re losing our sandwiches!” the protestors shouted out into the void. “What was that?” the void shouted back. “Sorry, I’m kind of busy right now.” Last Friday, as I chewed on my slightly dry, under-cheesed Subway sandwich outside of Tresidder, I heard a crowd of people roar behind me. I turned around and my heart swelled when I saw a gathering of students, eyes ablaze, speaking out with one voice. But then I listened more closely to that voice, and realized that they were protesting the closing of Ike’s Place. My heart sank. Those gathered were decrying a vision of Stanford in which cleverly named, mozzarella-stick-filled sandwiches are ghosts of the past. As I watched, I thought about everything that voice wasn’t saying, and I got pretty bummed out. Let me back up: I love Ike’s. I think that Ike’s sandwiches are delicious and I have appreciated their ubiquity at student group meetings. I also think that campus restaurants operated by Residential and Dining Enterprises are bland and lack personality. My experience with R&DE sometimes makes me feel that they care about food quality the same way they care about students protesting in White Plaza—they don’t. That’s really the issue, the extent to which an R&DE, which states as its core belief that “students…are the reason we’re here,” seriously considers their feedback. In this case, previous reporting has made it clear that to R&DE, student opinion was secondary to business concerns. There was a questionable student survey, a secret committee and some good old-fashioned bureaucracy. Further, ASSU Senator Andrew Aude ’16 has articulated significant ways in which R&DE is generally inefficient and wasteful. With that in mind, I agree that Stanford mostly overstepped in evicting Ike’s from campus, though as some have pointed out, Ike’s has tended to be overpriced and inconvenient. Really, this is a boring issue, so I’m trying to figure out why it has inspired such fervor among the student body. I think what it ultimately comes down to is privilege. I don’t mean privilege as the benefit that comes from being a particular race, gender, class or sexual orientation, but rather simply as the state of having something good. In that sense, Stanford students are awash with privilege. We are privileged to have access to academic resources such as massive libraries and research grants. We are privileged to live in a relatively crime-free area, and to walk outside comfortably in varying states of inebriation. We are also privileged to have R&DE providing us with food and housing. Last weekend, I went to Wilbur Dining and ate pho and garlic breadsticks, then ice cream, then more breadsticks. I hate FloMo Dining Indian food with all of my being, but that’s only because I’ve grown tired of it after over 50 Sunday dinners. What we get from R&DE may not be exceptional, but it is good. Of course, as students, we hope that R&DE will strive for excellence, but at what point does “good” or even “just okay” warrant a protest? Look at it this way: From an outsider’s perspective, the Save Ike’s movement is at best frivolous, and at worst, embarrassing. It looks like a privileged group of students who enjoyed sandwiches, lost their sandwiches and now want those sandwiches back. It looks like a group of Stanford students who are purposely ignoring a troubling set of social ills and complicated questions, all in the name of sandwiches. I fear that I sound like someone who is jaded and crotchety, but I’m really just confused. The compulsion to protest is not one that I usually share, even for issues that I really care about. Still, I admire and respect those who are willing to shout to make their voices heard, and I know how effective protests can be at starting conversations that lead to progress. When I wandered into the crowd last Friday, I wasn’t sure what conversation these protestors were trying to start. “Ike’s > R&DE,” one sign read. Another put “R&DE” inside of a stop sign. Ike Shehadeh himself was there, understandably upset. But his business has 12 other locations; he will be okay. I left after a few minutes, and the crowd thinned some time after that, and we all returned to the comfort of our dorm rooms. We will be okay. This issue is not worth our time. The worst possible use of the talents, passion and energy of Stanford students is to narrowly focus on the annoyances we face on campus for the four years that we’re here. Stanford tends towards a certain myopia, so the perspective of an outsider ends up being of vital importance, because only through that lens can we look beyond Campus Drive to the problems that matter, both for us and for not-us. This is a battle that the Ike’s protestors have lost, mistakenly believing there was a war in the first place. Contact Matt Lopez at firstname.lastname@example.org. ike's place matt lopez R&DE Student Protest 2014-05-22 Matt Lopez May 22, 2014 25 Comments Share tweet Subscribe Click here to subscribe to our daily newsletter of top headlines.