Students must treat service workers with respect to shift GW’s reputation

Restaurant and custodial staff are fed up with the way students are treating them.

Last week, my friend and I stood in line waiting to order at &pizza. My friend blurted out her order and moved on, not thinking twice about how she interacted with the employee. The employee yelled, “Hey, you go to GW?” My friend nodded and the server scoffed, “figures.” My friend didn’t mean to be rude, but the employee’s response spoke volumes.

The employee could have been having a bad day and perhaps that is why he snapped at my friend. But his response is indicative of a reputation that students have in our community and it needs to stop.

Cartoon by Jeanne Franchesca Dela Cruz

From not cleaning communal pots in dorm kitchens to leaving food and wrappers on tables around campus, as a whole students lack common courtesy. Whether it’s because we are in a rush to get to our next class, internship or social gathering, it is easy to overlook how we treat our servers.

Although we might not intend for it to be rude, skipping simple formalities, like saying “hello” and “thank you,” when interacting with servers, custodial staff and employees comes off as arrogant. How we treat our environment and the people around us understandably affects the way our community views us and we shouldn’t take their opinions of our student community lightly.

We claim the title of being loud, wealthy and rude in the eyes of D.C. and Foggy Bottom residents because of the way we are treating the people around us. But if the University is going to make any progress to reverse its reputation of entitlement, we must start small by treating community members around us with respect.

Due to GW’s unique dining system, students engage with restaurant workers more than most other college students. Of all the people that students interact with on a daily basis, restaurant and custodial employees are not given our priority. They may not have the most glamorous job, but they still deserve our respect. Students should make a greater effort to greet workers by saying hello, cleaning up after ourselves, tipping and, overall, making attempts to be more courteous.

We learn the virtues of “please” and “thank you” as a child as we are reminded to add “the magic words” at the end of every request to be polite and show our gratitude. It requires practically no effort, yet it is increasingly apparent that students still choose to disregard these words in our fast paced environment. Although saying “thank you” isn’t the most gracious action that we can do, it would help change our reputation of arrogant and entitled in the eyes of outsiders.

It has often been said that one can tell a lot about a person by the way they treat their servers. So students should take note of the way they represent the school and change the way they interact with the people around them.

When you think about it, people in the service industry put up with a lot. They deal with picky eaters, poor tippers, drunks, snobs and people in a rush all while almost always advertising a smile. The absolute least we can do is treat them with respect. We don’t have to tip them 50 percent or learn their life story, but we should be conscious of the interactions we have with the people around us. Clean up your mess and give people the common courtesy that you would want others to give you. It may be a small step toward changing GW’s image problem, but it will make a difference.

Michael McMahon, a freshman, is a Hatchet opinions writer.

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