Common cents: Peet’s employees should be allowed to have a tip jar


McKinley Anderson

Photo of the new coffeeshop in the Hekman Library

In need of some caffeine following a late layout night, I ordered a small Black Tie iced coffee from Peet’s last week Thursday. The price came out to $3.82 and I was left with 18 cents in change. After I asked where I could drop my change in a tip jar, the kind and helpful barista informed me (without complaining) that the Peet’s employees were not allowed to have one out like they had at the Fish House. The reason she and her coworkers were given: not all student workers on campus are able to make money through tips at their jobs. (However, student workers at the Prince Conference Center who work in housekeeping and bus shuttles can and do accept tips.)

This argument, although well-intentioned, makes no sense. Yes, student tour guides can’t ask prospective families for some tip money at the end of a Friday’s at Calvin visit, but they also don’t have to work the late nights that Peet’s employees do. Yes, deskies can’t make tips while organizing mail and passing out toilet paper rolls, but unlike Peet’s employees, they can also do homework while on their shift. Yes, the students doling out burritos and sandwiches in the dining halls can’t divvy up a tip jar at the end of the day, but Peet’s employees can’t grab a free meal and dessert alongside of a free coffee either. 

I’m not trying to lift up the student baristas on the second floor of Hekman as student worker saints; I’m just trying to show that every job on campus comes with its own set of advantages and disadvantages, and students have to let these factors inform their decisions. Eventually, students will have to make these decisions about their jobs off-campus and post-graduation. 

So let the Calvin student baristas make money off tips. Tuition is expensive, and perks like some non-taxed cash attract students to work at Peet’s rather than at a coffee shop off-campus. 

Calvin students are adults and can handle the trade-offs involved in choosing an on-campus job. The powers that be shouldn’t stop Peet’s from putting out a tip jar.