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BU students voice concerns about prices, portions at GSU

Students expressed frustration with the George Sherman Union dining experience, saying food prices have increased while portions have shrunk, and that weekend closures have caused inconveniences. 

The GSU, which is Boston University’s student union, hosts eight restaurants and is a popular spot for students in search of an accessible on-campus meal. However, a handful of students have witnessed a worrying rise in the price of their orders.  

Some students have found that new prices have altered their eating habits on campus. 

Johnny Walker, a worker at Halal Shack in the George Sherman Union, creates a bowl for a customer. Student concern has risen over increased meal prices and decreased portion sizes at the GSU. KATE KOTLYAR/DFP PHOTOGRAPHER

Last semester, Aarav Chhabria, a sophomore in the Questrom School of Business, visited the GSU four to five times a week for a meal. This semester, he said he only goes to the GSU two times a week due to rising prices. 

“I think GSU prices have gone insane,” Chhabria said. “I know every semester they increase [the price] by like 50 cents or something. I don’t think they should do that. I think it makes it too expensive.”

BU spokesperson Colin Riley wrote in an email that there “hasn’t been a universal increase” in prices amongst GSU food spots this semester. 

“Slight pricing adjustments of less than 10 percent were made, however, on some items at CRBC and [Greens & Grains] due to unforeseen increased product costs and in order to standardize pricing,” Riley wrote.

According to Riley, franchise agreements with Panda Express, Starbucks, Halal Shack and Basho “typically include annual price adjustments.” 

“These are just part of their standard cadence of price changes,” Riley wrote. 

Despite this, some students feel that prices at GSU restaurants tend to inch higher every semester. 

“I feel like every year everything changes just enough that you can’t really remember what it used to be,” said Leah Katz, a junior in the College of Communication. 

Ash Strange, a senior in the College of Fine Arts without a dining plan, sets a couple hundred dollars aside each semester to purchase meals on campus. They are finding that the money “doesn’t last as long as it used to.” 

“Generally, if I’m ordering a meal, it’s like a dollar or two more than it used to be when I started [here],” Strange said. “Going to dining halls just isn’t an option because of how expensive it is for people without dining plans.” 

Perry Mehrling, a professor of economics at Boston University, wrote in an email that rising GSU prices could be linked to a high national inflation rate. 

“Prices at the GSU are not just the price of ingredients, but also the price of labor,” Mehrling wrote. “In general, the surge in goods has abated, but not services.” 

Mehrling wrote that while the inflation rate remains above the Federal Reserves’ 2% target, it is lowering from the surge that occurred during COVID-19. 

“I believe we are converging on a permanently higher level of prices, so inflation will continue to come down,” Mehrling wrote. 

There have been other complaints about GSU dining this semester. 

Jonathan Andersen, a senior in Metropolitan College, said he has not noticed a rise in prices, but he has noticed a change in portion sizes. 

“I feel like the portion of my food is shrinking,” Andersen said. “So, kinda like ‘shrink-flation.’”  

Jahrai Haile, a sophomore in the Questrom School of Business, also voiced concerns about declining meal sizes, claiming that as prices increase, “portions are decreasing at the same time.” 

Riley responded to claims of shrinking portions, stating that there have been no “deliberate adjustments or reductions to portion sizes” made across any GSU locations. 

Additionally, some weekend closures at the GSU have sparked some frustration amongst some students. 

According to Riley, restaurants’ weekend closures are not something that have started happening recently. 

“Our dining locations in the GSU adjust hours of operation based on factors such as customer traffic, sales trends, and the University calendar,” he wrote. “While there hasn’t been a recent universal introduction of weekend closures, over the past two years not all stations in the GSU have operated on weekends.” 

Specifically, CRBC, Basho and Green & Grains have changed their hours so they are all closed throughout the weekend, while The Coop is now closed on Sundays. 

“I’m on campus a lot during the weekend, especially on Saturdays for rehearsal and also late at night and it’s been harder to find food here,” Strange said.

Chhabria said the closures are “kind of a headache,” as he often wakes up on weekends to limited options for on-campus meals. 

Haile described the alleged changes taking place across the GSU as “unfair,” adding that some students may no longer be able to enjoy GSU meals due to the heightened cost of food orders. 

“As a school, we should be more aware of those things and [make it] more affordable for any student to be able to go to a place like the GSU,” he said.

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