Off-Third: Weinstein should implement iPad tipping

If a self-serve frozen yogurt shop can ask me for a tip, why can’t Cluckstein?


Weinstein Hall is an NYU residence hall that houses three dining locations: Upstein, Downstein and the Market at Sidestein. (Photo by Emily Sorkin for WSN, illustration by Arnav Binaykia)

Sydney Barragan, Under the Arch Editor

Off-Third is WSN’s satire column.

My two roommates and I went to 16 Handles last week, and after paying $15 for a small cup that I filled up myself, the Airpod-wearing teenage boy behind the counter slowly turned around the iPad. The iPad asked me how much I would like to tip, starting at 20%. I naturally obliged. Even though I had to serve myself, the cashier did have to hand me a pink plastic spoon.

Tons of places have jumped on the iPad tipping bandwagon — Sweetgreen, Starbucks, McDonald’s, and even that COVID-testing tent behind the garbage cans on your street. It got me thinking — shouldn’t our dining halls be doing the same? The answer is yes, we absolutely should tip at Downstein, and all the money should go towards cushioning NYU’s dwindling budget.

We have the Swipe it Forward program to donate meal swipes to students in need, but we forgot about implementing a tipping program to help a $5.8 billion endowed university and its administration. President Andrew Hamilton could only spend $1.1 million on his 2015 modest penthouse remodel.

The affordable meal plan program just can’t be enough to keep this well-oiled dining hall machine running. The least expensive meal plan comes in at only $1,546 and offers a stupendous return of 95 meals a semester or if you do the math, 0.86 meals a day. If you’re in a splurging mood, you can pay $3,227 for almost three meals a day. Almost.

Clearly, the university’s dining department is in dire need of additional funding, otherwise, they’d be passing out Rubbermaid Tupperware containers instead of styrofoam. Speaking of which, can someone call Greta Thunberg?

Rather than percentages, tipping should be done in the form of meal swipes. A one meal swipe tip for a decent buffet-style dining experience, a two meal swipe tip if the food sheriff scanning your student ID smiles at you, and a three meal swipe tip if the marinara sauce doesn’t look like a celery stick and a shot of vodka away from a Bloody Mary.

Now don’t think pre-ordering through Grubhub will get you out of this. Instead of tipping with a meal swipe, you’ll tip with Dining Dollars when you go to Cluckstein. The Bursar office could sure use a tall espresso from the West Fourth Starbucks after a long day of billing students for their $80,000 tuition. Could you imagine how stressful it must be to put college kids in debt for a living?

Assuming this plan goes well and Downstein can finally afford to fully clean its sneeze guards thanks to the additional gratuity, we then need to address tipping at residence hall resource centers when picking up packages. Do you want to wait in a line of 45 other first-years, or do you want the red carpet service to pick up your Aritzia package? The answer lies in your decision to leave that 20% tip.

Off-Third is WSN’s satire column. WSN’s Opinion section strives to publish ideas worth discussing. The views presented in the Opinion section are solely the views of the writer.

Contact Sydney Barragan at [email protected].