Most students see UpC as a convenient place to go for a late snack, but for its student workers, it means difficult hours at minimum wage.
The popular late-night destination for smoothies and Nilda’s Cookies has a new set of open hours this semester due to a shortage of baristas.
Working at UpC is one of the most labor-intensive student jobs. Since employees are always on their feet, making drinks or taking orders, student baristas have little time to rest.
This year, UpC has experienced a drop in workers; many of the student employees quit either at the end of last semester or in the middle of this current one.
According to Senior Director of Campus Dining Maureen King, there is no specific reasoning behind these students’ departures.
Maureen King wrote in an emailed statement, “I am not sure, but I know students have told me that they were often short staffed and the late hours were difficult. I will say we were busier than in years past. This might have had something to do with their decisions.”
In response, campus dining has increased the number of workers per shift, and due to the prevailing small number of workers, has had to cut UpC’s hours as a result. UpC is currently only open from 8 p.m. to midnight, Tuesday through Saturday.
The pay has been one major factor in why the job has had difficulties in attracting workers. According to JobX, the job pays $8.00 an hour, the lowest a student can be paid on campus.
Though the amount has been increased due to the rise in minimum wage standards, many students feel the wage is not enough for the position.
According to King, campus dining made this move in an effort to maintain a better working and less stressful environment for the staff members.
Student Co-Chair of the Food Committee and a former barista at UpC Sarah King ’16 agrees that the hours can be difficult for college students to handle.
Sarah King wrote in an emailed statement, “I do not know the specifics but having been an employee there last year and having heard some things from people, here are some reasonings: The hours are very challenging for college students to work at, working from midnight to 2:30 a.m. is rough on a weekend or weeknight for anyone.”
King continued, “[W]ithout that many people staffing one shift it makes the shift even more miserable and difficult, having to deal with giant masses of people and not being able to refill things nor provide the quality of service one would like.”
Depending on the shift, an UpC barista’s tasks can range from stacking shelves to mopping floors to making drinks.
One sophomore currently working at UpC agreed, saying, “This job already has the disadvantage of hours that no one wants to work; combined with a complete lack of consultation or communication from the people in charge of the schedules, it’s flat out not worth it for minimum wage.”
The student went on to describe a recent staff meeting where UPC student workers asked for an increase in the number of baristas or an increase the pay. Otherwise, they feel there is no incentive for others to work there.
“I don’t really mind the hours or the pay, because I knew about those when I signed on,” said the student. “I’m not stressed out by being up late and I’m not stressed out by doing things I was paid for. I’m stressed out when shenanigans apparate from thin air because look, it’s a barista job, I only have so many [expletive] to give. I think a little bit of basic organization would go a long way toward keeping everyone happy.”
Stress is a common occurrence for those who work at UpC. With a constant stream of customers, workers there are never bored.
Former UpC barista Amanda Ma ’17 stated, “I actually left the job at UpC because it was too stressful. It wasn’t that I was really against serving people—because it was fun to see friends and I’m used to it due to the fact that I have worked as a waitress, but it was really taxing on my body and school work.”
She continued, “I would be on my feet almost every hour and it was usually order after order, while in the back of my mind, I would remember the huge amount of homework I hadn’t done.”
Though she herself has gone to UpC, only to find it closed, rather than be upset over the change, Ma understands the staffing issues. Said Ma, “It’s great to keep in mind a smoothie five days out of the week is better than none.”
Campus Dining implemented a trial run of “Late Night at the Deece,” which was held in the right dining room of the All Campus Dining Center. For three weekends, UpC closed while its workers moved downstairs to offer a variety of hot and fried foods, alongside the more traditional UpC fare like smoothies, microwaveable meals and chips.
According to Maureen King, the move was a success. However, the future of the program is unclear.
Sarah King said that a complete move of UpC to downstairs has been discussed, but it seems unlikely that it will be implemented anytime soon.
Unless more workers are hired, UpC will continue to operate under its current schedule. It does not seem likely that the hours will expand soon. Until then, students will just have to find somewhere else to give them that late-night fuel.