It’s common knowledge that college students love free food. In fairness, they basically love anything that doesn’t require payment, but food is probably up there as the most desired freebie. But how far would you go for something that is considered “free”?
Businesses around Bloomington-Normal offer a lot of freebies at events such as Festival ISU and Welcome Week, as long as the students listen to whatever spiel they give. That seems like a fair exchange, in my opinion.
But recently I saw an article in the Huffington Post mentioning a pizzeria in Champaign that offers free pizza to young women who flash the restaurant. I have more issues with this than I can count, but luckily, the article was a few days behind, as it mentioned that the restaurant’s Twitter page was down, but it was back up when I looked for it.
Drew’s Pizza seems to offer a lot of great deals on pizza. A lot of the tweets mentioned having medium one-topping pizzas for $3.99. I’d pay that, if I lived in Champaign-Urbana. So why does the establishment feel the need to exploit the women who attend the University of Illinois or just live in the area?
First of all, I cannot understand how it is sanitary to have girls lift up their shirts. Even if they are not sitting down shirtless for the entire meal, it hardly seems like it’s a good idea to have that much skin exposed in a restaurant. Most places seem to have that rule “No shirt, no shoes, no service” so it makes me question Drew’s Pizza’s health standards.
Last week, someone in my sociology class went to the Watterson Dining Commons without a shirt on to complete our homework assignment (breaking a social norm). One of the managers went over and talked to him about it. If it was not OK in a dining center, why would it be acceptable in a restaurant?
Additionally, this just seems trashy. I feel kind of bad saying that, but I’d like to know what sober, smart girl with morals would go in there to get free pizza. It is definitely targeting the young women who were out drinking earlier that night and are not necessarily making the best decisions. These women are not in the right state of mind to determine whether or not they want to perform such an act.
According to the Huffington Post article, a commenter on the original blog that noticed Drew’s Pizza tweets stated, “I don’t know if you have ever been on Green St. at 2 in the morning, but there are people that cannot stand up straight, much less make the sound decision to lift up their shirt or not for free pizza.” This leads me to think about how these women might be targeted in other ways. If they are obviously under the influence, it seems as though it would be easier for rapists or people who sexually assault others to pick out victims.
Another issue I have with this restaurant is whether or not all of these women are above the age of 18. Yes, most college students are, but if it is early enough in the school year, some freshmen might not be yet, and there are often younger siblings who come visit. It doesn’t seem to me like it should be legal for a restaurant to allow its customers to flash the other patrons if they do not ID them first, at the very least. But I suppose that by forcing them to show an ID that could lead to some of the women realizing that they might regret making that decision in the morning — if they remember it.
I also don’t understand how this can even be a good business model to follow, but frankly, I don’t care because I would appreciate if Drew’s Pizza would alter its plan or just go out entirely. It seems like an environment to exploit drunk women who don’t know what they’re doing, and I’m not sure why people would support that, even if it is good pizza.
So for those of you with friends at the U of I, you might want to consider eating somewhere else. If you condone this behavior, you may want to think about how you’d feel if your mother, sister or future daughter was in that restaurant.
Grace Johnson is a senior publishing major and columnist for The Vidette. Any questions or comments regarding her column can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.