Madison Pell

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Why can’t we wear tank tops to the gym?

UNC Charlotte is known to be one of the most inclusive and diverse universities in North Carolina. According to a report by US News, UNC Charlotte is ranked as No. 194 of the best National Universities. They go on to say that our campus has a lot of different programs to help students understand and support diversity and inclusion. We typically support people for who they are and what they stand for. Our campus is proud to let students express themselves in whatever way they choose. As far as dress code goes, we are allowed to wear pajamas or spandex to class. Tank tops and crop tops are permitted too, and I have even seen someone show up to class in a swimsuit. Our dress code policy truly is amazing until you enter Belk Gym. There is a strict no tank top policy in the gym here on campus. If you show up in one, you are offered a huge black T-shirt to change into or the option to go home. Many students have strong opinions on whether this policy is fair. I have even heard from students who say this policy has stopped them from going to the gym. If we are allowed to wear what we feel comfortable in everywhere else on campus, why is it any different when we step into the gym?

Students go to the gym to workout and to feel good about themselves. In my opinion, we should not have any rules that could potentially stop a student from making this healthy lifestyle decision. I asked Allison Bridgers, a second year student at UNC Charlotte, to comment on a recent event in which she was denied access to the gym due to a tank top she was wearing. Here’s what she had to say: “When I was denied the right to workout because of my ‘inappropriate attire,’ I felt very isolated. I still don’t understand how a workout tank top is considered inappropriate.” She went on to tell me that the woman who asked her to leave made her feel this was because she pointed to every other girl in the gym and said, “See, every other girl in the gym is wearing a T-shirt with sleeves and you aren’t.” Allison then said that “this incident has made me not want to step foot back into the Belk Gym.” This does not sound like an inclusive and comfortable environment to me.

Some have stated that having that extra inch or two of sleeve is simply more sanitary, but you are able to wear tank tops at so many other gyms such as Planet Fitness, Burn Boot Camp and local neighborhood gyms as well. You’re even allowed to wear tank tops to fitness classes on campus, but why does it suddenly become such a huge hygiene issue in Belk Gym? Do you really think that that little extra fabric is going to stop a common cold from spreading? It’s ridiculous; we’re all adults and there are wipes provided for a reason. Some have even gone on to say that they feel even more uncomfortable when everyone is wearing t-shirts and you can see their sweat lines, whereas tank tops resolve that issue.

I do understand that this rule may be in place because they may not want others to compare themselves to each other when working out; to avoid that feeling of being insecure. But I feel like that is pretty inevitable no matter what gym you go to. When you choose to go to the gym, you are choosing to better yourself and do something good. Whether they are showing a little more of their shoulder shouldn’t make that big of a difference.

It’s sad to me that it’s 2019 and some places still prohibit the showing of our shoulders in public for whatever reason they may have. A lot of fitness places have removed their rule of “no tank tops” and I honestly think it’s time Belk Gym does so too. There are so many other ways to get sick and spread germs; the two extra inches of sleeve is not a secure way of preventing it from happening. Ultimately, everyone at the gym is trying to better themselves and feel good, so why not let them wear what they feel the most comfortable in?

To tip or not to tip

To tip or not to tip? That is the question, isn’t it? Maybe the food was really good, but the service wasn’t; maybe the food sucked, but the service didn’t. Either way, tipping has grown to be a hallmark in the American culture, one that has always been a controversial topic.

I have now worked in the customer service industry as a server for three years. I have pretty much seen it all. From the 25¢ tips left by that elderly couple who no longer know the realities and demands of the serving industry in these days, to the family who can drop $120 on food and drinks but can’t afford to tip the server who was there to clean up after their messy children. You have to deal with unpleasant customers who will cuss you out and with cranky customers who will be rude to you no matter how nice you are to them. You get cooks who, no matter how many times you ring the order in correctly, will still send your food out wrong and you get blamed for it. I think I can speak for all my fellow servers when I say that the customer service industry is frustrating, but it is a necessary industry at that.

If you look throughout history, you can see that the correct percentage of a bill that you should leave a server has slowly increased. The Wall Street Journal reports that the standard tip for servers was 10% in the 1950s before it climbed to 15% in the 1970s. Nowadays, a good tip is considered to be 18-20% of the overall bill. The Journal goes on to say that this is going up simply because the customer is afraid to make a bad impression. However, I don’t think this could be more inaccurate. In my experience, people tip based off of one of two things: either the experience they had with the server or how much they can afford to spend after the cost of the bill. There’s a saying that goes, “If you can’t afford to tip, then don’t go out.”

Serving is not just the only place you should be tipping. There are bartenders, Uber drivers, delivery people, valet people and hair stylists. While tipping is not mandatory, it is pretty much expected in American culture. Some of these careers do have a wage behind them, but for the vast majority of people that work for tips in America, tips make up a substantial part of their income. A lot of people think that servers make at least minimum wage ($7.25/hour) but we don’t; we make $2.13 an hour, and after taxes, that is barely even an income. It’s safe to say that tips are our wage.

This article is not meant to make it seem as though I hate my job because I really don’t. Although there are the daily struggles, I actually really enjoy where I work. It is a really good experience and you take away a lot of lessons and skills from working in the customer service industry. In my opinion, I think everyone should work in this industry at least at one point in their lives. This article’s purpose is to just bring attention to the dilemma of tipping in customer service.

Let me break this down for you: at the majority of American restaurants, servers are required to “tip-out” or “split” with their fellow co-workers, such as their bartenders or hosts. So if you order a drink from the bar, or maybe even two, they are required to give the bartender a percentage of each tip. At some places, assuming a tip was given when it may not have been, even if you barely touched the table, the servers are required to tip out the busser who cleaned up after you. So if you think about it, if you don’t leave a tip, they are basically paying for you to be served and to eat there.

Recently, however, a growing number of restaurants have been moving away from this norm, doing away with the tipping model and exploring new payment structures in order to, among other things, balance the pay between staff in the dining room and staff in the kitchen. Parts of the tipping system argue that tips help drive customer service and satisfaction, they are viewed as a reward for their good customer service. But if you think about it, setting a payment structure would more than likely mean higher menu and service prices. Is that worth it? What you tip is still up to you for now, but in the future I urge you to think hard next time about the tip you are going to leave for your server, valet, bartender, driver or whomever. Budget ahead of time what you are going to spend going out and make sure a good tip is included in that. If you need to pull out your phone calculator to do the math, then do so. If you’re sitting there thinking, “That much?!” I promise you the answer will be yes, that much.