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Alternative Study Spaces houston Credit: Alexandra Fleischman

*This story appeared in the 2011 Joke Issue.

Faced with startling food theft rates and declining profits at Houston Market, Penn announced Monday that the underground eatery will install a series of full body scanners to prevent further stealing.

The increasing disappearance of pre-packaged sandwiches, Naked Juice and edamame — combined with previously lax policies against stealing — spurred the decision, Division of Public Safety spokeswoman Stef Cella said .

According to Cella, the scanners will be akin to those used in airport security, utilizing back-scatter x-ray technology and millimeter waves to detect snacks hidden in the pockets of hungry undergraduates.

“Even after forcing all freshmen to purchase a meal plan, we still have students whose Dining Dollars remain nearly unspent at the end of each semester,” Business Services spokeswoman Barbara Lea-Kruger said. “This situation was clearly unsustainable for our bottom line.”

The devices will block Houston Market exits such that students must pass through the x-ray, undergo a full scan and be patted down in order to leave the underground cafeteria.

DPS has not released whether or not additional security personnel will be hired as well, although Cella hinted that Penn may bring in TSA officials to help run the new system.

Students had mixed reactions to the announcement.

“Walking into Houston, it used to be that I gotta make my mind up — my morals or my Bursar?” Wharton junior Robert Gastron said. “But with the scanners, there’ll be no avoiding paying eight dollars for pasta.”

Engineering senior Nick Emile viewed the change in security differently.

“I’m kind of excited for the pat-downs,” he said.

A College junior — who wished to remain anonymous due to legal implications — said she was not rattled by the decision, despite her own frequent thievery from Houston Market.

“Honestly, there’s no way I’m going to start paying for that food after three years of free lunches,” she said. “I’ll just finish my food before I make it to the cashier. Good luck scanning the salad out of my stomach.”

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