Any Philadelphian worth their salt knows two things to be certain. First, Gritty is the best thing to happen to professional sports in the past decade, and second, Wawa runs in their blood. From the hoagies to the coffee, the Tastykakes to the quesadillas, the ICEEs to the F’Real milkshakes, Wawa is part of our culture. When the new Wawa location opened a few weeks ago, there was a shift in Drexel University’s campus. Prior to the grand opening, crowds accumulated around the doors, ready to pour in and get their free coffee.
Wawa’s offerings has a local reputation that precedes them and having one on campus will no doubt be a boost for the school and potentially Philadelphia as a whole. This is the largest Wawa in the city limits after all, clocking in at a cool 8,700 square feet. On the coattails of the overabundance of hoagie goodness, however, comes something slightly sad.
The family-owned food trucks and carts around campus are inevitably going to suffer as a consequence of our new haven on campus. The biggest blow to business will most likely be in these first few weeks after Wawa opens its doors as many students, especially freshmen, opt to try the new shiny hoagie store over one of the smaller, family-owned trucks nestled around campus. Food trucks let students try new, creative dishes on a tight budget, but with Wawa at the touch of your fingertips (with their new “Order Ahead” service, we mean literally) it makes sense some students would go somewhere with fewer lines and more options for the sake of ease.
The new Wawa may be aesthetically pleasing and way too big, but at the end of the day it’s a painful reminder of a practice Drexel has been partaking in for years. The University has once again decided to sacrifice on-campus space that could be used to foster a community within the student body for the sake of turning a profit. At the end of the day, Drexel is a business as well as a school, and as such is not as well off as people may think it is. The rent money that Drexel will accrue from continuing to allow well-known chains onto our limited campus space may not be worth it.
The backlit white goose looms over the students who filter in and out of the Wawa every day as they often fail to realize the opportunity that was missed in its stead. While we may love the Wawa and eat there every day, we’re under no misconceptions that Drexel is cashing those rent checks out of courtesy to their students. Instead, they’re potentially incurring harm to local businesses, such as our beloved food trucks, because it benefits them to do so. For Drexel, the more competition against pesky food trucks that are safety liabilities waiting to happen, the better. The Wawa represents another opportunity for Drexel to make a little bit more money off of its student body and their appetites for anything but campus dining. Two years ago it was the undertaking of Schuylkill Yards, two weeks ago it was the armory and now it’s the Wawa. We’re fed up with our administration consistently putting profit over the wants and needs of the student body, and we’re not falling for this Trojan horse of a Wawa.