BY ANNA SHORTRIDGE ’19
There are many new changeson the MountHolyoke campus this fall, including the renovation of Blanchard Campus Center, the consolidationof the campus store withthe Odyssey Bookshop and the move of student mailboxes to Auxiliary Services. And now, each dorm on campus has been equipped with new washing machines and dryers.
The search for a new vendor began in the fall of 2016, as Mount Holyoke’s contract with the previous laundry vendor was set to expire. The new vendor, Automatic Laundry Company, has provided Speed Queen Quantum machines and Energy Star certified washers. Energy Star is a government-backed symbol meant to signify that a particular product is above average in energy efficiency. Thus, according to the Energy Star website, they tend to be better for the environment.
Along with new card-readers attached to each machine, the washing machines allow users to choose among different settings to select the temperature of the water and soil level of the clothes and cycle type, unlike the previousset of machines that only distinguishedbetween whites, darks, colors, delicates or perm press.
According to a statement posted on Aug. 31 to MyMountHolyoke from the College, an online system will now alert students when their wash and dry cycles are complete, and will allow the user to see which machines are available in their dorms. The system also notifies the service provider of any problems with the machines. This process, according to the College’s statement, will “reduce downtime and ensure that our laundry rooms operate at peak efficiency.”
However, the new machines did not come without a price. And for students, that price is now 25 cents extra. With the previous system, the price per wash cycle was $1.50 and the same for a dryer cycle. With the current system, the price has been increased to $1.75 for both wash and dry cycles. When asked why students were not consulted about the price increase, Douglas Vanderpoel, the Director of Auxilary Services, explained that the price is set by the vendor.
“This is part of contract negotiations,” explained Vanderpoel, “It is really set by the vendor trying to cover the cost of new machines.”
In its statement, the College said that despite the increase, the prices for each cycle are still below average for dorm machines.
“We believe that the improved machines and service will give good value for the cost and is still well below the price per load at a local laundry provider of $2 for smaller machines and up to $6.50 for larger machines,” the statement read.
However, looking at Mount Holyoke’s neighbors in the Five College Consortium, Mount Holyoke appears to charge the most for its laundry services.
UMass Amherst uses the same laundry vendor as Mount Holyoke, Automatic Laundry. Their washes are priced at $1.40 per cycle and $1.40 per dry. Smith College charges $1.35 for wash and $1.35 for a dry with a Smith OneCard, and if the user uses coins instead, the price is $1.50. Hampshire College also uses Automatic Laundry, but students do not have to pay for their laundry when using the machines. The price of laundry may be subsidized by Hampshire College or included in students’ tuition or room and board package. Amherst College students pay between $1.25 and $1.50 for each wash or dry cycle.
But despite Mount Holyoke’s high cost of laundry, some students like Christy Stang ’19 are willing to pay the price for moreenvironmentally-friendly laundry machines.
“I like the new washers and dryers, personally,” said Stang, “It’s annoying that they are more expensive, but I am willing to pay more to use more eco-friendly machines. I just wish there were more of them! I live in Safford and there are only two washers and two dryers for the whole dorm.”
Some students have run into problems using their OneCards to pay for their laundry.
“My main complaint about the new machines is that my OneCard didn’t work,” explained Megan Littlehale ’19, “This was frustrating and rather annoying because it means I’ll have to go to Auxiliary Services to get a new one.”
Vanderpoel explained that the reason for some OneCards not working with the machines was due to an issue with the server, affecting all of the machines, as well as issues with the magnetic stripe encoding.
“We have one issue we are working on with the card reader company, but hopefully that will be resolved early this week,” said Vanderpoel.
If a OneCard does not work with the laundry machines, affected students can get a new card free of charge at Auxiliary Services.