OPINION: Here’s a tip—leave one

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Leeann Sausser is a junior
English writing and history double major
from Indianapolis.

The last time you were at Casa, how much did you tip? 10 percent? 15 percent? 20 percent?

Nothing?

An average server earns $4.63 an hour, $2.62 less than Indiana’s minimum wage requirement of $7.25. Wait staff rely upon that extra $2 you tag on your bill in order to make a living, meaning that tipping is not just a courtesy—it’s a requirement.

As a little kid, my great-grandpa always said that you gave the same tip no matter what kind of service you received. “You never know what kind of day they’re having,” he would say. Just like my grandparents and parents, I took that to heart and leave the same percentage tip behind no matter what level of service I have.

But in college, I quickly found that tipping was not the universal rule I thought it was. Some of my friends left small tips that rounded out the total or simply filled the extra line before “total.” I got into the habit of over-tipping when I ate out with certain people or in big rowdy groups.

I understand that we’re in college, and what little money we do make goes straight into the college loan fund. But that doesn’t mean we deprive people from earning something from their own hard work.

We all have bad days. There are times where every word out of my mouth is something snappy, and I rely on the fact I have good friends who know I don’t mean anything by my rude actions. But I’m lucky enough to be a student and not have to deal with strangers on days when I failed a test, lost my pet or can’t pay the rent.

The person waiting on your table is called a “server” for a reason. He or she is offering you a service, one that, yes, you must pay for. Imagine if a professor wouldn’t give you a grade for a paper because “you did the work, why do you expect something in return for it?” That’s essentially what you’re saying to someone you don’t tip.

Maybe you don’t tip because you feel like you shouldn’t have to; people should be paid enough without your contribution. On my winter term trip in Italy, we never tipped since Italy has figured out that it’s much better to just pay servers a real wage.

But just because you don’t tip doesn’t mean an establishment is suddenly going to change their practices. This is a nationwide change that needs to happen, and for some reason the United States has not been able to implement a system used all across Europe

So for now, that quesadilla you purchased does not include your server’s wage. And until it does, we need to do our part and pay up.