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The Obstacle of Finding A Seat

by Carlee Campuzano

photography courtesy of Diego Pereira Cardoso

Picture this: you walk into the George Sherman Union, order your lunch and roam through the seating area in search of a place to relax and enjoy your meal. You walk through each section, including the front seating area and the backcourt, but still—no open seat. What do you do? You have to eat your lunch. Do you wait for someone to get up and leave or do you intrude on someone else’s table with an open seat?

With approximately over 30,000 students on Boston University’s campus—and maybe about half of those enrolled with a dining plan—it is nearly impossible for dining areas to hold an adequate number of seats. That does not mean that you will never find a seat when dining—you almost always will eventually—but it does present a bit of a challenge.

Finding a seat in popular spots on a campus is not necessarily a serious problem, but it can add a little extra stress to your day. If you only have a limited amount of time between classes to grab lunch, searching for a seat can take up about a quarter or so of your lunch break. Next time you hit the GSU or a campus dining hall for a meal, try following some of these tips.

Check the community tables first

The community tables may feel awkward at times, but they are honestly your best shot at grabbing a seat in a short amount of time, especially if you are alone. You don’t have to socialize with the other students sitting next to or across from you, but if you choose to, you may even make a new friend!

Megan Antone (COM ’21) said ___

“I get so heated about this topic,” Antone said. “I think it’s rude when a single person sits at a four-person table during lunch rush because then I come in with my three friends, and we have to squeeze into a two-person table. If you are alone, that’s okay, but sit in the single seats.”

Kindly ask someone alone at a large table if you can sit with them

This one takes a little bit of courage. If you think you would get nervous asking if you could sit with someone, just ask yourself this question: does that person really need a whole GSU booth to themselves? The students sitting there do not intend to be selfish at all; they just grabbed an open seat just as anyone else would have, and they got lucky with a nice booth or roomy table.

It appears that many Boston University students have strong opinions on this topic. Gather some words of advice from your peers.

“I’m aggressive when it comes to finding a seat,” said Emily Frantz (COM ’20). “I’ll ask anyone if I could sit with them. I’m not afraid. You gotta do what you gotta do!”

Avoid busy hours (when possible)

The seating areas are always so much less crowded when it isn’t your typical lunch or dinner hour. If you’re looking for a quiet place to work, try grabbing a bite during the late lunch/early dinner hours.

Try taking your meal to-go

The GSU offers a convenient, sustainable to-go container for students on the run. Pick one up, and if you are headed home after your meal, eat it in the comfort of your own residence instead! You’ll enjoy some quiet time to balance your headspace while avoiding the mealtime traffic.

View looking for a seat as a positive experience

Try finding some enjoyment out of participating in the hustle and bustle of a college campus.

“Searching for a seat is part of the experience, no matter what you do or where you decide to sit,” said Elina Kent (CAS ’19). “I tend to make awkward eye contact with strangers when searching for a seat. You always end up making eye contact and then you are now bonded with that person in a way.”

Whether you struggle to find a seat or not, mealtimes at BU can be a lot of fun. Try not to let a full seating area get to you and enjoy that yummy meal with pride!

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