How ASC Students Are Fighting to Rehire a Beloved Barista

Visiting Tinika Smith at her job at Black Cat Cafe was a highlight of the day for many Scotties. Tinika was friendly and had “an incredible rapport” with many of the students. She wasn’t just a barista -- she was a friend and a confidant.

Then, in November, she lost employment. It wasn’t made clear to the students why, and many felt the decision was unfair. They weren’t just losing a barista who made their drinks with a special flair, they were losing an important member of their community.

Several students decided to take action and try to bring Tinika back to campus.

So far, the students have created a petition for the Agnes Scott Community to express support in rehiring Tinika. The petition has received over 330 signatures so far. The students are also working on creating a GoFundMe to support her children, “so that Tinika and her family can have a comfortable and normal Christmas.” They also have collaborated with the Agnes Scott Living Wage Campaign for further help in advocating for Tinika. The Living Wage Campaign has previously fought for Agnes Scott to pay all of their employees a living wage, and held educational events on Founder’s Day.

I talked to the group of students who helped organize the action, including Kristina Kimball ‘20, Clementine Ellis ‘19, Milka Kiriaku ‘19, and Emma Fischer ‘18, about why this is important to them.

HC: What made you want to help bring Tinika back to Agnes Scott?

Clementine Ellis: Tinika has been an integral part of the Agnes Scott community for five years, and deserves to be treated with respect and dignity. We knew that we had to make it clear that her absence would not go unnoticed by the student body.

Emma Fischer: I’ve been lucky enough to develop a real relationship with Tinika, and she has really become a big part of my Agnes experience. They circumstances surrounding her departure really didn’t sit right with me, and I knew that nothing would change unless we stood up and said something about it. Tinika loves Agnes, and we love her. She wants to be here, and we want her here; I don’t see what’s preventing her return other than bureaucratic holdup. At the end of the day, Tinika deserves to be here. It’s really that simple.

HC: Why do you think Tinika has made such an impact on Agnes students?

Kristina Kimball: Tinika is so incredibly kind to all of us here at Agnes. You can feel that she cares about each Scottie individually. Tinika has created strong relationships with the student body during her five years here -- she even knows our drink orders by heart. Tinika makes our drinks with love, she checks in on how we’re doing in our classes with love, and her presence at Black Cat Cafe just fills our community with love.

Milka Kiriaku: Tinika has made my days so much better in ways that she may not even know. She was always so human, funny, and understanding while also making the best soy lattes. My sophomore year, she memorized my regular orders and would whip them out with such ease, always ready with a quip and a smile. She is not only an employee of Agnes, she was a part of the community. She was and is an amazing, stupendous, supportive part of my life and the lives of other students.

If you want to help bring Tinika back to Agnes Scott, you can sign the petition here.