The unsolved laundry crisis at Mount Holyoke College

BY NORA BARON '18

Mount Holyoke News dedicated its last issue to the rankings that Mount Holyoke College received from U.S. News & World Report. There were mixed opinions about what that meant and why it happened. So, I’m throwing in my two cents and writing about something that plagues much of the student body — laundry. While it may seem petty that I’m writing about this, it’s an issue that is part of the larger picture.

If you’ve always had dry, clean clothes, you’re probably living off campus or you’ve traded your soul to the devil. Doesn’t auxiliary services get tired of refunding students money that was stolen by the laundry machines? Doesn’t facilities management get tired of fixing broken washers and dryers? Or do they just hope that students will give up after a certain amount of tries and accept defeat? Just last night I had two different dryers steal my money and give me cold, damp clothes in return, even though the lint traps were empty. I finally had to give up and take all those clothes and hang them around my room, with my fan on high, in hopes of getting them dry.

This school costs a lot. I come from a lower-middle to middle-class family. We run on a budget. My budget does not include money stolen by washers and dryers. When I only have six dollars I can move from my bank account to my OneCard for laundry (oh wait, I can’t, because all online transactions have to be $20 or more), I can’t spend more money on redoing loads of laundry, not to mention the time it takes to redo laundry. We all have schedules to follow and while some unforeseen things occur, I shouldn’t have to spend the time dealing with something that should be so very simple.

Normally, I love doing laundry. It’s one of the highlights of my week. That is, until my dorm last year only had one working laundry machine that 100 students had to share for two weeks. If you do the math, it wasn’t a pretty equation. Laundry is an important part of everyone’s lives, and wearing dirty clothes isn’t fun. Are students supposed to trek to a different hall to do their laundry? Go to a laundromat? I have a crazy idea, but here’s a direct message to the administration: how about you work with a company that has reliable machines.

“The administration doesn’t own the machines, that’s why it isn’t free” is the explanation I’ve heard for the cost of the machines, but I’m confused why the school couldn’t work with a company with proper-working machines, or buy the machines. You expect us to pay boatloads for attending this school, fine. But something like laundry shouldn’t be as much of a hassle as it is. I see it as a sign of respect. Laundry isn’t actually something you can opt out of, so respect our needs. Or maybe I’ll start doing my laundry at your house, where your dryer most likely works.

So, I have a challenge to the administration: stop thinking about the money, start thinking about the students. You want to give us petty charges over tickets and meal plans, fine, whatever. Give us quality laundry service in return. Next time the contract with the laundry company comes up for review, end it and find a company that actually works. Because unlike you — with working machines in your homes and apartment buildings — we don’t have the luxury of choosing our laundry machines. We literally pay the cost for your disregard for us. So do us a favor and get it together. 

Mount Holyoke News

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