A professor tweeted that Panda Express general managers make more money than him, citing a sign outside of a Panda Express location “three blocks away” from where he works.
In screenshots of his tweets featured in a TikTok video, the professor at Westminster College in Salt Lake City, Utah, tweeted that he makes $61,500 per year—Panda Express general managers make $69,000. The professor, named Spencer Bagley, faced backlash online for his tweet.
“I get that you were going for the ‘educators are underpaid’ angle, which they are — but you did it at the expense of Panda Express workers, which was elitist and is worth maybe examining as a blind spot,” @retepadam tweeted.
“It’s extremely elitist. I’m a [general] manager and you are more than welcome to apply for that job,” @billgraves1 tweeted. “Or are [you too] much of an ‘intellectual’.”
Some even made comments on his salary, in particular.
“You’re below the bottom of the scale,” @wayneswhirled tweeted, referencing a screenshot that says that associate professors like Bagley at Westminster make $96,112. (Glassdoor confirms this Twitter user’s findings.)
Commentary on Bagley has also made its way to TikTok. TikToker @tejopalsignhtv posted a video that has almost 80,000 views about Bagley’s tweet, saying that Bagley should have been upset that he was not being paid more and complained to his employer, rather than be upset that general managers were being paid more than him.
“You’re really mad at Panda Express for paying their employees more? Instead of getting mad at your college that you don’t get paid more,” the TikToker says. “You’re an idiot. How are you so hollow in the head for being a college professor? How did you get that job?”
@tejopalsignhtv posted another video saying that general managers work year-round, while many college professors get the summer off. The TikToker also said that had Bagley handled the situation better, he could’ve “seen both views.”
“But if he’s gonna be arrogant about it, I’m gonna take the other people’s side,” the TikToker says.
And, of course, Bagley has not been immune from the meme treatment: Memes poking fun at Panda Express general managers being well paid and college professors being sad about it are popular on Twitter.
Bagley has since made his Twitter account private and has seemingly addressed the situation in his Twitter bio: “All labor is skilled labor | All workers are underpaid | Twitter was a mistake lol.” Bagley also offered the same sentiment to the Daily Dot as a statement in an email.
Update 7:09am CT Feb. 22: When reached for comment, a spokesperson for Panda Express told the Daily Dot in a statement the company was aware of the tweet and hopes “it sparks a larger conversation about this important topic.”
“At Panda, we believe in competitive pay for all industries, especially those in education, and are proud to offer well-rounded benefits and one of the highest hourly wages in the restaurant industry. Additionally, providing the tools that give our teams the skillset and mindset needed to run a great restaurant and become successful business leaders is a core part of the Panda culture,” the statement read.
“As a family-owned and operated company, our people are the foundation of our business, and enabling them to thrive remains our highest priority. Panda Express does its best to support educators by offering free learning resources and through its philanthropic arm, Panda Cares Foundation, which has donated $4M in 2021 to US public schools to support teachers and their curriculums,” it continued.
The Daily Dot reached out to @tejopalsignhtv by Instagram direct message and Westminster College by phone.
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