Emerson College’s only independent, student-run newspaper since 1947

The Berkeley Beacon

Emerson College’s only independent, student-run newspaper since 1947

The Berkeley Beacon

Emerson College’s only independent, student-run newspaper since 1947

The Berkeley Beacon

Students express discontent over Max tax

The+Maximilian+Mutchnick+Cafe.
The Maximilian Mutchnick Cafe.

The Max is a favored dining spot among students on campus; however, numerous items at the C-Store in the Max Cafe are pricier than those at nearby stores, making shopping there a financial challenge.  

Pricing varies when looking at other stores in downtown Boston, including CVS, 7-Eleven, and Roche Bros. 

For example, full-size dinnerware at the Max is $8.89 compared to $1.59 at Roche Bros — more than $7 difference. The shelf where the dinnerware is stocked has a label that conveniently reads, “match my price.”

Another heavy hitter was the Tide laundry detergent, which sells for $9.79 per 739 mL at the Max compared to $8.99 per 1.09 L at CVS and $9.29 per 1.09 L at Roche Bros — a $1.23 difference. 

Comparing Prices by The Berkeley Beacon

Joei Chan, a senior writing, literature, and publishing major, said the Max is where she would typically spend her board bucks for items like chips and ramen.  

The amount of board bucks students receive per semester varies, depending on a student’s meal plan. If students use up their board bucks before the semester ends, they must use their own money if they want to purchase something at the C-store or other on-campus dining locations.

“The minute you don’t have that anymore, it’s like, ‘Oh my god, I have to spend x amount of money from my wallet.’ That can be a little daunting,” said Chan. 

George Karnedy, a sophomore visual media arts student who says he frequents the Max twice a day, wished a single meal swipe would amount to more food.

“All the stuff is overpriced even just meal swipes. If you want to order something cool, it’s two meal swipes for some reason. If you want to get a burger patty inside of a bacon egg and cheese, why can’t that just be one meal swipe,” said Karnedy.

While students lament the heavy costs of the Max, it’s a problem that’s difficult to avoid, according to Dawn Sajdyk, the resident district manager for Bon Appétit Management Company, which is a company hired for dining and catering needs on campus. 

Sajdyk said Bon Appetit dictates the prices of convenience store products based on what it pays vendors. The cost increases in comparison to prices for similar products in other stores are based on inflation that is impacting the country as a whole.

“We have seen our food prices continue to increase over the last couple of years due to things like inflation, labor costs, the supply chain, and the war in Ukraine, which is one of the world’s largest grain producers…,” Sajdyk said. 

Sajdyk added that it is expected that individual stores like the Max oftentimes are unable to sell their products for lower prices compared to stores like 7-Eleven, Roche Brothers, and Target. 

“Places like [7-Eleven, Roche Brothers, and Target] can generate more volume across all their stores company-wide, not just one individual store like the Max,” Sajdyk said. “This combined volume of all of their stores enable them to be able to negotiate much lower prices with manufacturers directly on certain items.”

The Max has weekly daily grill specials, product promotions, and giveaways. It has recently done giveaways for Celsius, Farmers Fridge, and Frito Lay items.

“[If] we are able to find deals with our vendors, we’re more than happy to pass those along to the community,” said Sajdyk. 

Elyza Guzman, a junior musical theater major, said that the high prices for C-Store items at the Max work against her and her peers. 

“I think it defeats the purpose of having a store accessible to students,” Guzman said. “If you’re going to have a store for students, make it student-friendly or at least more affordable for low-income students.” 

Guzman, who works two jobs, said it is sometimes difficult for her to afford some of the items at the Max. 

“I like the variety of food at the Max… that doesn’t bother me, I just can’t afford them,” she said.

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