In his seminal 1857 essay “A Plea For Culture,” Thomas Wentworth Higginson wrote “there should be some place in America where a young man may go… that kindles his enthusiasm, and find there instrumentalities to help the flame.” Yet in the century and a half since Higginson penned those famous words, his dream has gone unrealized. Nowhere has this been truer than the Upper West Side of Manhattan, and as sad as it may be for the fellows at our fair Columbia, Morningside Heights is no exception. Our neighborhood has been – if the reader will excuse the cliché – a cultural wasteland, a desert devoid of any opportunity for civilized practice. It seems, however, that this dismal state of affairs may finally be at an end. A candle shines in the darkness, dear reader. For this past week, Panda Express has come to Broadway.
For too long, Columbia students have gone to bed with their hunger unsatiated and their minds pining for something greater. It’s true that last year’s flourish with John J.J.’s was a brief respite from our campus’s total lack of cultivation. But after the disturbing announcement that Heinz Ketchup would be removed from the dining halls, many of us began to feel that any hope for an enlightened culture stemming from within the college was wishful thinking. Perhaps it was foolish to imagine that the university system could inspire a movement of ordinary people making demands for a better life, but fortunately for the dreamers among us, the hands of fate have delivered the opportunity to find such encouragement elsewhere.
In the coming months, Columbians will finally have something to fill the orange-chicken-sized hole in their hearts. This novel dining option in Morningside Heights represents more than an extension of thirty years of Hunan inspired cooking, a family friendly atmosphere, and a commitment to philanthropy: it is the culmination of the search for a truly beneficent culture that some cynics had all but abandoned. Higginson said that “Culture is the training and finishing of the whole man.” We believe that Panda Express will bring that personally transformative element that has thus far been sorely absent from our collegiate experience. For this reason, and so many more, we at The Federalist would like to be the first to welcome Panda Express to its new home on the Upper West Side.
Thomas Germain & Ben Greenspan
Editors in Chief