Tips jars not allowed on food counters at CSUS

State Hornet

Tip jars are not allowed to be displayed at University Enterprises Inc. managed food counters on the Sacramento State campus. The reasoning for this restriction is to not make student customers feel obligated to leave a tip.

It may not seem like a big deal to those who have not worked in food or service, but displaying a tip jar is a well-deserved right of employees in the service industry.

The policy is unfair.

Jim Reinhard of UEI said although tips can be accepted over the counter, tips should not be expected or encouraged by employees. If this is true, then getting rid of the tip jar is unnecessary.

It is true that as students, we are constantly looking for ways to pinch pennies here and there. However, we have to remember that many employees standing behind campus food counters are also students trying to budget in the same way.

The food industry is no cakewalk. The employees at these food counters are regularly dealing with caffeine-deprived customers, picky drink orders and making a little bit above minimum wage.

Displaying a tip jar gives employees a little incentive to get through the stressful shift ahead.

As regular consumers, we should know by now that contributing to a tip jar is not an obligation. It is an option and it always has been. Students who have eaten off campus, whether it was to get a frozen yogurt or Starbucks, know they have no obligation to drop a dollar in the tip jar.

There have been plenty of times we have visited coffee shops, and the employees do not point to the jar nor do they verbally ask customers to drop something in. They simply ring up the transaction, make your coffee and thank you with a smile.

If a tip jar is available, we have the option to thank our barista with gratuity or with a smile as well.

Good customer service is often provided whether or not you provide gratuity. And often the coffee shop employees must play the roles of cashier, barista, server and dishwasher all at once.

If the worry is that student customers will feel pressure to drop money into a tip jar, the policy should be reconsidered.

College is a good time for students to learn to budget and recognize where they can afford to give gratuity and when to keep it. It is still an option for customers to tip, especially since automatic gratuity was eliminated earlier this year.

It should also be considered that Sacramento State is a public campus. There are many people who come through the campus who are not students but visitors exploring the campus grounds. They are also using the services of the coffee and food counters.

A tip jar is harmless at Sacramento State and employees deserve the right to display one.