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Why free laundry may actually be harmful to students

At the Townhall Meeting on Monday, February 26, of the many things that were discussed, laundry seemed to be a hot topic. It is no secret that this college has issues with laundry. The campus is littered with machines that are broken and there are typically long lines for the machines that actually do work. John Winkelmann pointed out that some of the machines are not usable because students had broken them while trying to rig them to get free laundry. However, he neglected to discuss the machines that are unusable for the simple fact that they are old and worn out. Freshman year when the machines in my residence were broken, I tried following the directions on the stickers that are present on the machines and tried calling the phone number to report issues. This phone number was discontinued and I eventually just ended up leaving a SchoolDude request. 

After discussing these laundry issues with students for a few minutes, Winkelmann stated that the college was currently in discussions with several different companies to not only replace the current laundry machines, but also be able to offer ‘free’ laundry to students. However, ‘free’ is a misnomer because while students will not be required to pay for laundry at the site, the fees associated with the service will just be tacked onto room and board fees thus resulting in a small tuition hike. During a time when students are already worried about adjusting to the tuition hike, to learn that part of it could be attributed to laundry services is angering. While there seemed to be a little hesitancy regarding this new issue, students in general seemed pretty excited to not only have new laundry machines throughout campus, but also to not have to worry about, and carry around, quarters just to pay for laundry.

Currently, I live with two individuals who are from Chicago and are able to make it halfway through the semester with the clothes that they brought to college with them without doing a load of laundry. For people like this, the notion that room and board fees will be increased in order to cover the cost of replacing laundry machines is cause for concern. They ask: “Why should my fees increase when I do not even plan to use the amenities that the fees will pay for?” In response to this, I am not sure that there is a clear or adequate answer. I have a feeling that John Winkelman would simply say that you now have the option to do laundry on campus without having to worry about paying for it like you would have had to in the past.

While personally I am excited to have new laundry machines and will no longer have to hoard quarters like a squirrel preparing for winter, I understand why some students are still hesitant to initiate the change on campus, especially when Greek Life organizations have set the precedent of offering their members free laundry, as they own their own machines.

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